الثلاثاء , مايو 18 2021

Iran nuclear deal 'near completion'

Journalists outside the Palais Coburg Hotel (12/07/15)

The two sides have been locked in talks in Vienna for almost three weeks

There are growing expectations that a comprehensive deal capping marathon negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme will be announced in Vienna.

Six world powers and Iran are reported to have drawn up a 100-page document detailing curbs to Iran’s nuclear activity and sanctions relief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is to make a televised address at 17:30 GMT.

The sides are trying to agree on a long-term deal which will resolve the 13-year-long crisis.

The world powers suspect Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons – something it strongly denies.

Unnamed diplomats at the talks told the Associated Press news agency that negotiators planned to announce on Monday that they had reached a final accord.

The BBC’s James Robbins in Vienna says the text of the document is long and the language apparently very precise, to minimise the risk either side can question later the commitments they have made.

‘Final phase’

Amid the guarded optimism there were still expressions of caution as the discussions resumed on Monday.

“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.

Negotiations between the so-called P5+1 – the US, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany – and Iran have been struggling over the issues of international inspections of Iran’s non-nuclear sites, verification of Iranian compliance, and the pace of sanctions relief.

Officials from the two sides signalled on Sunday that they were close to a deal.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said “a few tough things” needed to be resolved but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who cancelled a trip to Africa to stay at the talks, said: “I hope we are finally entering the final phase of these marathon negotiations. I believe it.”

Iran’s President Rouhani said they had “come a long way”. “We need to reach a peak and we’re very close,” the Isna news agency quoted him as saying.

If a long-term agreement is reached, it still faces a tough ride through the US Congress, which could reject it and leave US sanctions against Iran in place.

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, told Fox News on Sunday: “I think it’s going to be a very hard sell… We already know it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state.”

A deal is also strongly opposed by the two main US allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who feel threatened by Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused the P5+1 of “caving in” to Iran. It followed comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said the fight against US “arrogance” would continue regardless of the outcome of the talks.

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