Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Next Round of Nuclear Talks: Two-Week Marathon Session

Russian Ambassador Tells UN Security Council
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told the Security Council today that the next round of nuclear talks in Vienna, scheduled to start on 2 July, will be a two-week marathon session, running between 2-15 July. (Reuters, 25 June)
The unusually long period set aside for the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 shows the determination of both parties to reach a deal before the current JPOA expires on 20 July. It is also an indication of serious differences still existing between the two sides.
Most major issues are apparently still unresolved. The scope of the enrichment program, including the number of centrifuges and the future of Fordo enrichment facility, tops an extensive list of differences, which also includes the future of Arak heavy-water reactor, the inspection regime of nuclear facilities, and the process of lifting of sanctions. Also some sort of compromise related to missile program probably needs to be worked out.

The two sides are far apart on the number of centrifuges and the scope of enrichment program. On other issues compromises could be reached easier. On sanctions, Iran could agree that they be lifted in few stages. On missiles, the solution could perhaps be found on the type of warheads the missiles could carry. But considering the long list of differences, the two sides will have to try their absolute best during the two weeks in Vienna to be able to strike the final and comprehensive deal by 15 July, and have their capitals officially verify the deal by the 20th.

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