Iran deal poised to be sealed in days, says John Kerry
Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30
Every foreign minister involved in negotiating over Iran's nuclear ambitions would return to Vienna, John Kerry predicted yesterday.
But the US Secretary of State stressed that "difficult issues" stood in the way of agreement.
After eight days of talks in the Austrian capital, Mr Kerry said the diplomatic effort to resolve the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme could still "go either way".
He played down expectations of a breakthrough before tomorrow's deadline, saying: "I want to be absolutely clear with everybody: we are not yet where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues."
He endorsed the view of his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, that a final agreement has "never been closer".
Mr Kerry added: "At this point, this negotiation could go either way. If hard choices get made in the next couple of days - and made quickly - we could get an agreement this week. But if they are not made, we will not."
America and Iran are believed to remain at loggerheads over three issues. The US wants Iran to account for its past research into sensitive technologies related to the design of nuclear warheads.
The parties also differ over the rights of international inspectors to enter sensitive locations in Iran, particularly military sites. Finally, negotiators disagree over the pace at which sanctions on Iran would be lifted under any deal.
The talks feature the 'P5 plus 1' contact group, consisting of the Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany.
Mr Kerry said that foreign ministers from these countries would gather in Vienna.
All of the 'P5 plus 1' foreign ministers need to be present to endorse a final deal.
But Mr Kerry stressed the US was "prepared to walk away", in words designed to reassure his allies, particularly Israel and the Gulf states, who fear that America has decided to settle with Iran at almost any price.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)