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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Iran, P5+1 still hope for final deal (JMD quoted on Azernews)

By Sara Rajabova
Though the six world powers and Iran couldn’t clinch a final comprehensive agreement for the second time, there is still hope for resolving the long-lasting dispute over Islamic Republic's nuclear energy program as the sides agreed to extend the nuclear talks for seven consecutive months.
After a nearly week of intensive talks in Vienna, the P5+1 and Iran have ended talks with the two sides agreeing to extend the Joint Plan of Action till July 1, 2015.
The extension of the nuclear talks showed that both sides are willing to overcome the differences between them. The diplomats from both sides are hopeful to reach the final deal in less than seven months.
While some experts deemed the talks as failed, others considered that it’s too early to talks about failure.
Commenting on the issue, James M. Dorsey, Senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies told AzerNews that a failure means there would be no agreement to resolve the nuclear issue and no agreement to extend the talks.
“Beyond the differences over remaining issues, both the United States and Iran need to project a sense of tough and difficult negotiations to counter critics, both domestic and regional, of any agreement that might be achieved,” Dorsey said.
He believes that the chances haven’t run out for the talks and Iran and six world powers are willing to come to an agreement.
“In principle, both the permanent members of the United Nations security Council plus Germany and Iran want an agreement. Both need at the same time to be seen as not having caved in to the other,” Dorsey said.
Speaking about the impacts of the fruitless talks on Iran, Dorsey noted that it will certainly create new hardship for Tehran, which has been experiencing hard economic situation because of the international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear energy program.
“For Iran it would mean continuation of crippling international sanctions that severely affect its economy, continued international isolation and a weakening of the country’s more moderate forces represented by President Hassan Rouhani. It would also weaken Iran in the struggle for regional power in the Middle East,” Dorsey said.
Following the talks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran do not intend to use the whole period of extended seven months for negotiations, but to reach a comprehensive final agreement within the shortest possible time.
“If we had a little more time, we could have finalized the job in this round of negotiations,” Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister said after talks.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement was also positive after the talks as he said Iran has lived up to its commitments based on the Geneva nuclear deal with the six world powers. But, in meantime, noted that the anti-Tehran sanctions will remain in place.
“Progress was indeed made on some of the most vexing challenges that we face and we now see the path toward potentially resolving some issues that had been intractable. We believe a comprehensive deal that addresses the world’s concerns is possible. It is desirable,” Kerry said.
Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Chief Editor of the magazine "Russia in Global Affairs" told Trend Agency that it is not a catastrophe that the sides couldn’t reach an agreement on this issue on November 24 deadline.
He added that although formally Iran holds negotiations with P5+1 (the US, UK, Russia, France, China plus Germany), in fact these are talks between Iran and the U.S. “The rest of the participants will not be able to do anything unless Iran and the U.S. reach a basic understanding and mutual trust.”
Lukyanov believes that rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. is a very difficult process and the main issue here is the perception of each other.
“Iran wants to negotiate with the West, however, Tehran wonders what Washington can actually do. Even if Barack Obama signs any agreement, it remains to be seen if he could implement it against the totally hostile Congress and anti-Iranian sentiment in general in the American establishment?” Lukyanov said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congressmen called for the imposition of additional sanctions against Iran during the course of negotiations. Three influential Republican senators said the extension should be coupled with increasing sanctions and a requirement that any final agreement be sent to Congress for approval.
However, State Secretary defended the decision not to abandon the talks. “We would be fools to walk away from a situation where the breakout time has already been expanded rather than narrowed, and where the world is safer because this program is in place,” Kerry said a press conference in Vienna after talks on November 24.
Lukyanov further went on to say that Iran, especially the Supreme Leader of the country has also no trust in the West, and the failure of the talks will only aggravate the anti-Iranian sentiment.
“Moreover, Tehran reasonably believes that today the U.S. needs Iran more rather given the situation in the Middle East, where it is more difficult for the U.S. to conduct its policy without the support of allies,” he said.
At the moment, the pace of sanctions relief and uranium enrichment volume appear to be at the core of the nuclear talks. Iran seeks to operate as many centrifuges as possible, the West – to dismantle most of them. Iran wants UN and Western sanctions lifted all at once, the West – step by step to ensure Iranian compliance with the deal.
In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries clinched an interim nuclear accord, which took effect on January 20 and expired six months later. However, they agreed to extend their talks until November 24 as they remained divided on a number of key issues.
Iran says its nuclear program is for energy and medical purposes and rejects allegations that its nuclear work is a cover to build atomic weapons.

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