Historic Iran nuclear agreement may be just hours away
Within hours, negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks plan to announce that they have reached a historic deal capping nearly a decade of diplomacy that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, AP said quoting two unnamed diplomats.
According to a BBC report, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is to make a televised address at 17:30 GMT on Monday.
The text of the document is long and the language apparently precise, to minimise the risk either side can question later the commitments they have made, it added.
“No-one is thinking of another extension. Everyone working hard to get to ‘yes’ today, but political will still required,” tweeted Alireza Miryousefi, a member of the Iranian delegation.
Earlier talking to AP, the two envoys said final details of the pact were being worked out. Once it is complete, a formal, final agreement would be open to review by officials in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks, they said.
All of the officials, who are at the talks in Vienna, demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.
“We are working hard, but a deal tonight (Sunday) is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official said, noting that the agreement will run roughly 100 pages.
The senior U.S. official declined to speculate as to the timing of any agreement or announcement but said “major issues remain to be resolved.”
Despite the caution, the negotiators appeared to be on the cusp of an agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Thursday had threatened to walk away from the negotiations, said Sunday that “a few tough things” remain in the way but added “we’re getting to some real decisions.”
En route to Mass at Vienna’s gothic St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday. The two met again early Saturday evening.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also was cautiously optimistic, telling reporters Sunday: “I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation.”
In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said an agreement was close, but not quite done, describing the negotiations as “still steps away from reaching the intended peak.”
Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other foreign ministers held a dinner Sunday night. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived overnight, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The other foreign ministers of the six nations negotiating with Iran already are in or are planning to arrive in the Austrian capital and in position to join Kerry and Zarif for an announcement.
Movement toward a deal has been marked by years of tough negotiations. The pact is meant to impose long-term, verifiable limits on nuclear programs that Tehran could modify to produce weapons. Iran, in return, would get tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
The current round of nuclear talks has been extended three times since the first deadline of June 30 was missed. The mood among negotiators had turned more somber each time a new target date — first July 7, then July 10 and then July 13 — was set.
As the weekend approached, Kerry declared the talks couldn’t go on indefinitely and warned that the U.S. could walk away from the negotiations.
Iran’s state-run Press TV cited supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It said Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”
His comments appeared to be a blow to U.S. hopes that an agreement will lead to improved bilateral relations that could translate into increased cooperation in a common cause— the fight against Islamic State radicals.