Now’s the Time to Close Deal

Now’s the Time  to Close Deal
Now’s the Time  to Close Deal

Describing the atmosphere of the Iran nuclear negotiations as "constructive" and "positive", European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said there is political will on both sides to complete the marathon talks on a long-sought nuclear deal.

"The time is now... We are very close," Mogherini was quoted by AFP as saying on Sunday, adding, "I see the political will ... now it is a matter of seeing all together if this political will manages to translate into political decisions."

Foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany), the courtiers which have been in talks to resolve a long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, are in Vienna to make a last push for an accord.

Mogherini said the negotiations have entered their final critical hours and their fate will be decided in a few days.

"I think this is really the last mile of these negotiations," Sputnik quoted her as telling reporters in Vienna. "If the deal could be closed, it is now. It is getting to the last hours, last days, very last days."

The negotiators, who missed a self-imposed deadline of July 30 for the deal, gave themselves an extra week.

The EU foreign policy chief ruled out a "plan B" for the talks.

"If you work on plan A, you stick with plan A."

***Hard Choices

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said despite "genuine progress" made in the past few days, several "most difficult" differences remain which could scupper the chances of getting the deal.

"Over the past few days, we have in fact made genuine progress. But I want to be absolutely clear with everybody: We are not yet where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the website of the US State Department.

"And the truth is that while I completely agree with Foreign Minister (Mohammad Javad) Zarif that we have never been closer, at this point, this negotiation could go either way. If hard choices get made in the next couple of days and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week. But if they are not made, we will not."

Asked how likely it is for the United States to "walk away" from the negotiations, Kerry said, "If we don't get a deal, if we don't have a deal, if there's absolute intransigence, if there's an unwillingness to move on the things that are important, (US) President (Barack) Obama has always said we'll be prepared to walk away. It's not what anybody wants. We want to get an agreement."

"But I've said from the moment I became involved in this we want a good agreement, only a good agreement…. This is something that the world will analyze…. Our Iranian counterparts have been working hard. They've put in a lot of time. Everybody is negotiating hard. That's what makes this difficult."

***Constructive Firmness

France's foreign minister said it is now up to Iran to decide whether it will make commitments on unresolved issues in the nuclear talks with the major powers, Reuters reported.

"We are 72 hours from the moment when (these negotiations) are supposed to end," Laurent Fabius said on Sunday.

"The principle question is to see whether Iran will accept to make clear commitments on what has not been clarified. We hope so," he said. "Everything still has to be clarified and France's attitude will be the same as always - constructive firmness."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there has been progress on some points in the nuclear talks and whether a deal is reached depends on the participants' courage.