Representatives from the P5+1 global powers and Iran emerged from nuclear talks Friday without having made any major breakthroughs, and with Iranian negotiators reportedly rejecting “excessive demands” from the West:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted the wide gulf between the sides, urging the six nations to “abandon excessive demands which will not be accepted by Iran”.
“Still we have not overcome disputes about major issues,” he told reporters as five days of negotiations in Vienna wound up. “There has been progress, but major disputes remain.”
He made clear there was no agreement yet between Iran and the six on a draft text of an agreement. A senior Chinese official said the two sides had put together a “textual framework”, though gave no details.
It remains unclear if the parties will reach a final deal by the interim Joint Plan of Action’s (JPA) July 20 deadline – and in fact conventional wisdom is hardening to the effect that they will not – but the Wall Street Journal noted that all parties left the talks with a working document that the outlet described as “the first concrete advance in months.”
There has been robust public debate regarding the nature and extent of what are widely described as large gaps between Tehran and the international community. Public attention, aided by leaks from all sides, has in recent weeks focused on the number of the number and sophistication of centrifuges the Islamic republic will be allowed to maintain. Tehran currently has 19,000 centrifuges, and in February a former top nuclear negotiator from the country boasted that Iran “will never” dismantle portions of its nuclear infrastructure.
Disputes over Iranian intransigence regarding what are referred to as the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program have been more muted but are considered substantively just as significant. Iran is obligated by United Nations Security Council resolution 1929 to come clean over the degree to which the country’s military is entangled in its atomic program, a requirement that is considered crucial if international inspectors are to establish the baselines for a robust verification regime.
Iran has made moves indicating that it is seeking to skirt those obligations even in the context of comprehensive negotiations. Talks are set to resume in early July, less than three weeks before the July 20 deadline.
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