By Shahd Qureshi
(London) As 20 July deadline approaches, Foreign Secretary William Hague says a deal is far from certain but final round of talks must test the possibility to the full.
The E3+3 (UK, US, Russia, China, France and Germany), led by Baroness Ashton, are meeting Iran in Vienna today for the start of the final round of negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive deal on Iran’s nuclear programme. The interim agreement reached in November last year is due to expire on 20 July. Speaking today, the Foreign Secretary said:
This is a crucial moment in international efforts to resolve one of the most challenging foreign policy issues of our day. The UK is fully committed to reaching an agreement which ensures Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. To achieve this, Iran will need to be realistic about the steps required to resolve the international community’s serious concerns about its nuclear programme. We will not accept a deal at any price. A deal that does not provide sufficient assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is not in the interests of the UK, the region or the international community.
Achieving an agreement is far from certain. Significant differences remain between the E3+3 and Iran which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue. Over the next three weeks, an intensive effort will be required by all sides. We will continue to work closely with our E3+3 partners to test to the full the scope for achieving the deal the international community requires. The benefits of a comprehensive deal for Iran are clear: if Iran is willing to take the steps needed, significant economic benefits will follow. Ultimately, this would lead to the lifting of all nuclear related sanctions and Iran being treated like any other non-nuclear weapons state.