Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 10
By Dalga Khatinoglu, Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran and the P5+1 group made "significant and real progress" during the last round of talks on the Islamic Republic's nuclear case that encourages the sides to continue the negotiations, the U.S. State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson Alan Eyre said.
The sides made serious efforts, offered new proposals and brought their positions more close to each other, however the agreement was not achieved before Nov. 24-deadline due to remained complicated and technical issues, Eyre told Trend Dec. 9.
It should be noted that Iran and the P5+1 group (the US, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany) agreed to extend nuclear talks until July 1, 2015 after failing to meet the 24 Nov. deadline to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
The sides also extended the Geneva nuclear deal, which was signed last November for providing Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities.
The sides decided to put March 1, 2015 as a new deadline for a political framework agreement, Eyre said, adding if the sides fail to achieve agreement on main political principles in four months then the sides can talk to make decision about the process.
While responding to a question about the place and time for the next round of nuclear talks, Eyre said that the sides are talking about the issue. He added that when the time and place is specified, Catherine Ashton, The EU coordinator for the nuclear talks will announce it.
He said that the this doesn't mean that we (P5+1) want delay or waste time.
The US diplomat who has been a member of the US nuclear talks delegation since 2009 said that achieving a comprehensive agreement which would remove the global community's concerns about Iran 's nuclear program is possible.
"At this point, we know clearly how the agreement can be formed, but there is still considerable controversy which should be worked on," Eyre said.
While responding a question about the main differences between the sides, the US diplomat refused to unveil details, saying the sides need to keep secret the negotiation details, adding "I can only say that we want to give Iran an opportunity to prove its nuclear program is peaceful and remove the legitimate concerns of the international community."
The diplomat rejected some Iranian officials' statements saying the US imposed "excessive demands" during the negotiation.
"Not only the US, but the all competent international entities and major part of world countries want Iran to fulfill its commitments," Eyre said, adding "If the international community expects Iran to meet its obligations as a signatory country of the NPT like other member states, this will not be an excessive demand, it will be fair."
"Why should Iran be excepted from the rules, while it is insisting that its nuclear program is peaceful and expressing readiness to accept measures of transparency and verification to prove it," the US official underlined.
Eyre said that the two sides could achieve a political agreement within four months.
"The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even has declared a fatwa (religious decree), which bans pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons, so principally reaching a comprehensive agreement is possible," he said, expressing hope that it will be possible in practice and the sanctions against Iran will be removed as a result.
While responding to a question about differences between the US administration and Congress on Iran 's nuclear issue, he said that both government and Congress share the same goal in negotiations: preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The government continuously confers with the congress, he said, confirming that government's policy towards Iran has some critics in the congress.
"This is natural while the US system is characterized by the separation of the powers," Eyre said.
The government tries to explain its viewpoints in hearings and informal meetings to convince the critics, the diplomat said, adding, "if we achieve an acceptable comprehensive agreement, our colleagues in the Congress will be satisfied."
It should be noted that the US Acting Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman is scheduled to meet the US lawmakers this week to persuade Congress not to push ahead with draft legislation that would slap even more punitive sanctions on Iran.
Some lawmakers are eager to pass new sanctions against Iran through Congress aiming to prod the Islamic republic into a nuclear deal that prevents Iranian leaders from developing a nuclear weapon. However some experts believe such a move would endanger months of nuclear talks.
Dalga Khatinoglu is an expert on Iran's energy sector, head of Trend Agency's Iran news service
Follow him on @dalgakhatinoglu
Edited by CN