Expert-Level Nuclear Talks Resume

Expert-Level Nuclear Talks Resume
Expert-Level Nuclear Talks Resume

A new round of expert-level nuclear talks between Iran and the six major powers started on Wednesday in Vienna.

The talks are being led by Hamid Baeidinejad, the director general of the foreign ministry’s department for political affairs, and nuclear expert Stephan Klement, who represents European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Experts from Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are holding discussions to sort out technical issues in the talks on the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program to pave the way for clinching a final comprehensive deal which would place temporary constraints on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the phasing-out of sanctions.

Iran and its negotiating partners have set a November 24 target date to build on an interim nuclear accord they reached in Geneva last year to hammer out a long-term settlement to the nuclear dispute, which has dragged on for over a decade.  

The two sides said the most recent round of high-level nuclear talks in the Austrian capital made “some progress”, but major differences on various issues remain to be resolved.

The future scope of Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity, the mechanism and speed of lifting sanctions, the duration of the final deal, the Arak heavy-water reactor, and the underground fordo enrichment facility are the main stumbling blocks in the talks.

  Difficult Decisions

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said on Tuesday that Iran should take “actions” to assure that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iran denies the allegation that it may have been seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons and says its nuclear work is meant only for peaceful applications.

“Iran must take actions that assure the international community that its program is exclusively peaceful, and it will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Sherman said. She expressed hope that Iran would make “difficult decisions” to give such an assurance to the international community.

“If they do, their isolation will end. Sanctions will be suspended and ultimately lifted and we will have a more peaceful and stable world,” the chief US negotiator in the nuclear talks commented.  

  Congressional Engagement  

Reuters also quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying on Wednesday that the Obama administration planned to fully consult the US congress about ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

“I personally believe, as does the president, that congress has an extremely important role to play in this and congress will play a role in this,” Kerry said in response to a question about whether US lawmakers might be shut out of the decision-making process.

Kerry said a possible suspension of sanctions against Iran in any nuclear deal “does not in any way write congress out of the process or suggest that in the end congress isn’t going to have a vote.”

“We anticipate hearings, a significant amount of back and forth. We certainly will be briefing as we go forward in the next weeks. And we look forward to serious and deep congressional engagement in this effort,” he added.