Top diplomats are meeting in Austria ahead the deadline for a deal on Iran's nuclear program
Representatives from the U.S., Britain, China, Russia, Germany and EU are in talks
The U.S's John Kerry met Iran's Javad Zarif Saturday and Sunday
Reaching a deal on Iran’s nuclear program is a matter of political will, and the “security of the world is at stake,” the European Union’s top diplomat said Sunday.
European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini made the comments in Vienna, Austria, ahead of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The U.S. and its negotiating partners Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – known as the P5+1 – as well as the European Union hope to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran before June 30.
The negotiations are aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program and keeping it from building a nuclear bomb, though Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful.
Kerry met again with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Vienna on Sunday, posting a photo of the meeting on the social media network Twitter, followed by another image showing him with Mogherini.
Ahead of the meeting, Mogherini told reporters it was hoped that the understanding reached in Switzerland in April could be translated “into a political, sound agreement” in the next couple of days.
“Obviously, we have some flexibility, as it was the case in Switzerland in April; if a few more days are needed, we can take them,” she added. Mogherini said the negotiations would be tough but not impossible.
“It’s a matter of political will. The reasons for having this agreement done are still there, probably now more than ever. It is most of all a nonproliferation agreement, so it’s our security, security of the world is at stake,” she said.
A senior U.S. administration official later reiterated that the deadline for an agreement could shift.
“We’ve said that these talks could go beyond June 30 for a few days if we need some additional time to conclude a strong comprehensive agreement. Given the date and fact that we have more work still to do, the parties are planning to remain in Vienna past June 30 to keep negotiating. We are still very focused on concluding a comprehensive agreement in this negotiating round, though, and no one is talking about a long-term extension,” the senior administration official said.
Foreign and deputy foreign ministers from the six countries and EU negotiating with Iran went into talks early Sunday afternoon.
One of the most sensitive issues needing to be addressed is ensuring access for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites, including military ones. A second outstanding issue is related to sanctions against Iran being lifted or suspended.
Kerry and Zarif also met Saturday morning.
Asked if he was optimistic about an agreement, Kerry said, “I think it’s fair to say that we’re hopeful.”
“We have work to do,” he added. “There are some very tough issues and I think we all look forward to getting to the final effort here to see whether or not a deal is possible. I think everybody would like to see an agreement. But we have to work through some difficult issues.”
“We’re determined to do everything that we can in order to be able to make this important milestone,” Zarif said. “But that depends on a lot of things and we are determined to work on them and find out.”
Iran’s government-backed Press TV reported Sunday that the country’s Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday warned the P5+1 countries not to make excessive demands for “propaganda.”
“They make such remarks so that maybe they can eventually raise the demands through bargaining and extract more concessions,” its website quoted Larijani as saying.