Nuclear Deal Hinges on Ending Pressure

Nuclear Deal Hinges on Ending Pressure Nuclear Deal Hinges on Ending Pressure

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers have entered "detailed discussions" on Tehran's nuclear program, adding that the success of the negotiations hinges on ending pressure on Iran and lifting economic sanctions.  

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Zarif said, "We have always emphasized that if the other party wants to reach an agreement with Iran it must change its policy of imposing pressure on us," IRNA reported.

The future size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment program and the speed of ending sanctions have been among major sticking points in the talks and Tehran has always reiterated that it will not accept any "excessive demands" in relation to these issues.  

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on Sunday wrapped up five days of diplomacy in Geneva and Paris, including lengthy meetings between Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.  

In response to a question about his repeated meetings with Kerry in view of the fact that Tehran and Washington have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, Zarif said, "The bulk of cruel sanctions against the Iranian nation have been imposed by the US government and congress. That's why it is necessary to hold direct talks with them (US officials) to discuss the manner of ending those sanctions."  

He also added that he may hold meetings with some foreign ministers of the six major powers this week on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"However those meetings are yet to be finalized", the top diplomat noted.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said discussions with the P5+1 had been "good" and "extensive".

"We reviewed all subjects on the table and we had very serious and business-like negotiations and there is a resolution to reach an agreement while there are differences that needed to be addressed," he told reporters.    

"We are still trying to bridge the gap between the two sides," Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.  

In addition, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov described the latest talks as "productive".

  Next Meeting Early Feb.   

The European Union also said in a message sent to journalists, "They had serious and useful meetings chaired by EU political director Helga Schmid and decided to meet again in early February."

Other diplomats, however, were less upbeat about the negotiations. France's negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere told reporters as he left the European Union mission in Geneva, "The mood was very good, but I don't think we made a lot of progress," Reuters reported.  

Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 will meet again next month as part of efforts to narrow differences to reach a framework accord that sets key parameters by March 31 and a final deal by June 30 that completes the detailed technical aspects.

Negotiators failed in November to meet a self-imposed deadline for clinching an elusive agreement to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear work. The two sides agreed to extend the talks for seven more months until June 30.   

Under the 2013 preliminary nuclear accord with the major powers, Tehran agreed to temporarily scale down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions.

Nevertheless there are fears that the US congress may seek to impose a new set of sanctions against Iran. On Friday, US President Barack Obama warned lawmakers not to trigger new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, vowing to veto any new sanctions legislation. He also said such a move would upset diplomatic talks and increase the likelihood of a military conflict with Tehran.