Extending Iran nuclear talks for months unlikely
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 19
By Dalga Khatinoglu - Trend:
Despite the remaining unsolved disputes and looming self-imposed deadline in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, a senior expert believes that extending nuclear talks for months are unlikely.
Iran and P5+1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) reached a 6-month interim nuclear deal in November 2013, but haven't reached a comprehensive nuclear agreement so far, after several times extending the negotiations.
On April 2, finally the sides reached a nuclear framework agreement and imposed a deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal by June 30. However, the major disputed issues remain unsolved so far.
Coming to the possibility of extending the talks, Mark Hibbs, a research scholar in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank in Washington, D.C told Trend that "There is probably some leeway that could be measured in days or weeks, but not many months."
"Leadership in the U.S. and in Iran is under pressure from opponents of diplomacy to produce results," he said.
The U.S. State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson Alan Eyre who is a member of the U.S. nuclear negotiator team with Iran, told Trend on June 5 that "the timetable for lifting of the sanction, transparency and access toward verification are necessary for reaching the final agreement" are the major unsolved issues.
The P5+1 demands Iran to accept Additional Protocol (AP) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which allows the UN body inspectors to visit Iranian nuclear facilities (or suspicious military sites) immediately, whenever the IAEA decides to do so. On the other hand, Iran demands elimination of economic sanctions entirely.
"From the outset it was clear to the negotiators that a main point of contention during the negotiations would be the sequencing of sanctions-lifting and implementation of commitments by Iran, especially commitments that would involve IAEA verification requiring a certain amount of time," Mark Hibbs said.
According to him, the comprehensive agreement between Iran and P5+1 should not be concluded or enter into force, without a formal ratification of the additional protocol by Iran.
"Beyond that, the IAEA needs express authority to establish what Iran's capabilities are for making nuclear weapons. It isn't clear that that authority is provided by the additional protocol alone. Ten years ago the IAEA Board of Governors for that reason provided the IAEA Director General express authority to pursue allegations that Iran had done nuclear weapons work, some of which may not have directly involved the use of nuclear material".
IAEA demands Iran give allowance to inspect Parchin military base, where the UN body suspects that Iran has conducted nuclear-related tests. IAEA also demands interviews with a dozen of Iranian scientists and officials.
Hibbs said that some hard issues remain, including the schedule for sanctions-lifting and the fine print concerning verification of any activities that Iran believes would be unacceptably compromising if they are confirmed by the IAEA.
"All sides at the negotiating table want to reach a successful conclusion, but it isn't clear that other players, outside the talks in the U.S. and Iran, who have asserted that concessions already go too far, will permit this outcome," he said.
"In the U.S., Republicans will attack the negotiated outcome to deny President Barak Obama success, and in Iran, sanctions profiteers will do everything in their power to protect their interests".