Nuclear Talks With Iran Resume in Vienna

Barak Ravid
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From right: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi and deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Lausanne, Switzerland, April 3, 2015.Credit: AP
Barak Ravid

The representatives of Iran and the six world powers began on Tuesday another round of talks, as part of the ongoing efforts to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement by June 30.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi expressed optimism on Tuesday ahead of the talks, and said that a significant portion of the agreement has been completed and agreed upon.

The negotiations in Vienna – the third round of talks since the sides reached understandings in Lausanne – will go on for four days.

The talks began with a meeting between Araghchi and the European Union representative Helga Schmid. Schmid is coordinating the drafting of the agreement on behalf of the six powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

On Wednesday, the U.S. delegation - headed by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman - will join the talks. Top negotiators from the other world powers will be arriving in Vienna by Friday, when representatives of all countries will hold joint meetings.

According to Araghchi, the sides have nearly reached an agreement on a significant portion of "a single agreed text." Speaking to Iranian media on Tuesday, the deputy foreign minister said that there are still differences over one issue, but added: “We think that we can do that even before the [June 30] deadline.”

Araghchi said that the current draft agreement still contains "lots of brackets, which represent the differences we have," adding that the goal of the current round of talks is to "clean" the text as much as possible and remove as many "brackets" as possible. He stressed that the central issue Iran wants to keep talking about during the current round is a time table for removing sanctions. The Iranians demand the economic sanctions be removed the moment an agreement is implemented.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nuclear talks on Tuesday morning, when he asked Israeli officers returning from Nepal if they saw any Iranian relief personnel in Kathmandu. "The Iranians send delegations not to save lives, but to spread destruction and death," he said at the welcoming ceremony for the Israeli relief team returning from Nepal.

The Vienna round of talks will take place as the U.S. president holds a summit at Camp David with leaders from six Gulf states. Most of the Arab leaders, chiefly among them Saudi Arabia’s King Salman – will not be attending the summit, signaling their dissatisfaction with the nuclear agreement being discussed between the U.S. and world powers and Iran. In their stead, the Gulf state leaders will be sending the heirs of their foreign ministers.

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