Today, representatives from the P5+1, led by Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy for the EU, concluded the second round of political talks in Vienna with Iran regarding a comprehensive solution to eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat.
Last month, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and the lead U.S. negotiator on this matter told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that according to the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and working towards a long term solution, “nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon.”
According to Reuters, another Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, has stated the same:
“The goal of these sessions is not to solve any topics at this point, but to be talking through the gaps and working on how to narrow them,” the diplomat told Reuters.
There has been much concern that the continued P5+1 talks with Iran would be negatively affected by US and Russian relations…especially as the talks began a day after Washington and the European Union imposed sanctions on various Russian officials following Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.
However, according to the New York Times, a senior official at the U.S. Department of Treasury stated the following:
“I don’t think we ever thought that the Russians were doing us a favor by participating in the P5-plus-1 negotiations,” said the Treasury official, who spoke on condition that he not be further identified because the diplomacy is delicate. “They’ve been involved in this because they have a shared interest in ensuring that Iran doesn’t obtain a nuclear weapon. So I think we expect that interest hasn’t changed and that they’re going to continue to be productive members of the P5-plus-1 process.”
Moreover, Tehran’s chief delegate voiced optimism about the talks at the start of the second day:
“At this stage we are trying to get an idea … of the issues that are involved and how each side sees various aspects of this problem,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told Reuters at the start of the second day of talks in Vienna. Asked whether he expected negotiators to be able to meet their deadline, he said: “Yes, I do … I am optimistic about July 20”.
Iran is after all receiving a total of 4.2 billion dollars of previously blocked overseas funds in installments as progress is made, per the JPOA and IAEA inspection verifications. The next installment will be 110 million, to be paid on April 10th.
All In all, Michael Mann, a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, said that “we continue to work in a unified fashion”, referring to the P5+1.
Joint Press Statement of High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif following the E3/EU+3 talks with Iran, Vienna, 18-19 March 2014
“Minister Zarif and I, together with the Political Directors of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, just finished a second round of talks with Iran in our ongoing diplomatic effort to seek a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.
We would again like to thank the Austrian Foreign Minister and his staff as well as the United Nations for their support in hosting these negotiations in Vienna.
Based on the framework for the negotiations established at our meeting last month, we had substantive and useful discussions covering a set of issues, including enrichment, the Arak reactor, civil nuclear cooperation and sanctions.
We will meet again on 7 April 2014 in Vienna and continue our work on the substantial areas which we intend to cover in a comprehensive agreement.
In the meantime, technical experts will meet to further elaborate on the details of the relevant issues.”
Nathan Daniels is a Research Assistant & Intern covering nuclear issues at the American Security Project