Photo: EPA
US Secretary of State Kerry
Photo: EPA

Iran, P5+1 close in on 2-3 page nuclear deal

Top diplomats from France, Germany, US, and Iran continue efforts to break deadlock in Lausanne as deadline for agreement approaches.

The foreign ministers of France and Germany joined the top US and Iranian diplomats on Saturday to help break an impasse in nuclear negotiations as major powers and Iran closed in on a 2- or 3-page accord that could form the basis of a long-term deal.



US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been in Lausanne for days to try to reach an outline agreement by a self-imposed deadline of March 31, and they held a further round of talks on Saturday.


While Tehran and the the six major powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – could clinch the preliminary framework accord in the coming days, several sticking points remain that could prevent a deal, officials close to the talks said.


Kerry and Zarif at talks (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Kerry and Zarif at talks (Photo: AP)

"I hope we can get a robust agreement. Iran has the right to civil nuclear power, but with regard to the atomic bomb, it's 'no'," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on his arrival in Lausanne. "We have moved forward on certain points, but on others not enough," he said.


German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier compared the talks in Lausanne to the final stage of a mountain climb.


"The endgame of the long negotiations has begun," he told Reuters. "And here, with a view of the Swiss mountains, I'm reminded that as one sees the cross on the summit the final meters are the most difficult but also the decisive ones."


Before taking an afternoon bike ride, Kerry lunched with Fabius and Steinmeier to discuss the remaining obstacles to a deal. The two European ministers were also set to meet Zarif as Western and Iranian officials familiar with the negotiations cautioned that they could still fail.


Iranian FM Zarif (Photo: AP)
Iranian FM Zarif (Photo: AP)


"The sides are very, very close to the final step and it could be signed or agreed and announced verbally," a senior Iranian official familiar with the talks told Reuters.


Talking round the clock

Ahead of meeting Zarif, Kerry said he expected the discussions to run late. Zarif added that the meetings would run through "evening, night, midnight, morning".


The British, Russian and the Chinese foreign ministers were due to arrive on Sunday.


If agreed, the document would cover key numbers for a comprehensive agreement between Iran and the six powers, such as the maximum number and types of uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran could operate, the size of uranium stockpiles it could maintain, the types of atomic research and development it could undertake and also details on the lifting of international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.


Two officials said it was likely that most of the outline agreement would be made public. Others said certain sections would be kept confidential.


Several Iranian officials denied that Iran was close to agreeing an outline document, but a Western diplomat said such comments were aimed at a domestic audience.


Nuclear negotiations in Switzerland (Photo: AFP)
Nuclear negotiations in Switzerland (Photo: AFP)


"The difficulty is that the Iranians are not moving enough. They like to negotiate right up to the precipice and they're very good at that," a Western diplomat said.


One key number is expected to be the duration of the agreement, which officials said would have to be in place for more than 10 years. Once it expired, there would probably be a period of special UN monitoring of Tehran's nuclear program.


The framework accord should be followed by a comprehensive deal by June 30 that includes full technical details on the limits set for Iran's sensitive nuclear activities.


It remains unclear whether the framework deal will be formally signed or agreed verbally. The Iranians have expressed concern that a written agreement would limit their negotiating space when the technical details are worked out.


Even if such a preliminary deal is clinched in coming days, officials said, there is no guarantee that agreement can be reached on the many technical details.


פרסום ראשון: 03.28.15, 18:57
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