TEHRAN – Iran and the European Union have found solutions for differences on how to implement a landmark nuclear deal in talks in Geneva, a top Iranian nuclear negotiator told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi held a two-day meeting with Helga Schmid, a deputy of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has overseen contacts between Iran and the six major powers on the country’s nuclear issue, on Thursday and Friday to iron out remaining practical details of the Geneva nuclear deal.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) signed an interim agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program in Geneva on November 24, 2013, according to which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country.
The agreement also stated that over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries of the 5+1 group will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the sanctions on Iran and Iran will provide the world verifiable guarantees that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
“The talks were held in an atmosphere of understanding and were very serious. And solutions for three outstanding differences were found, which have been conveyed to the capitals. The decision-making on these solutions is subject to the views of the capitals,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.
If the capitals do not approve the proposed solutions, “I will be in contact with Ms. Schmid to make a decision in this regard. And it is possible that Ms. Schmid and I will hold a new meeting or there will be a meeting at a higher level to make another decision.”
In addition, Araqchi said that a date has been proposed for the implementation of the accord which has not been confirmed yet.
According to Reuters, Michael Mann, a spokesman for the EU, said after the meeting on Friday that very good progress was made “on all the pertinent issues”, but added that results of the talks still had to be validated by more senior officials.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing that the technical talks were making good progress but reports that a deal had been finalized were inaccurate.
“There have been a few outstanding issues, but at this point, the reports that everything has been finalized are incorrect,” she said.
The seven countries need to agree when the nuclear accord goes into effect, meaning when the European Union and the United States ease economic sanctions in return for measures by Iran to meet its commitments under the agreement.
In a series of implementation talks between nuclear experts and sanctions specialists from the seven countries and the EU, held since November 24, 2013, several issues linked to the accord have surfaced.
There appear to be disagreements over the sequence of how the sides implement the deal, and how much prior notice of Iran fulfilling its obligations should be given to Western governments before they ease sanctions.
The talks have also run into problems over advanced centrifuge research, highlighting the huge challenges facing Iran and the six powers in negotiating the precise terms of the interim agreement.
Diplomats have said the sides aim to start implementing the agreement on January 20, to allow EU foreign ministers, scheduled to meet that day, to approve the suspension of EU sanctions covered by the deal. Preparations for that to take place were under way in Brussels, officials said.