US, Iran Say 'Hard Work' Ahead to Seal Nuclear Deal

A deal, it is hoped, would put an end to a standoff dating back to 2002 that has threatened to escalate into war.

Published: 27th June 2015 07:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th June 2015 07:05 PM   |  A+A-


VIENNA: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's foreign minister both today warned of "hard work" ahead as they sought to seal a historic deal after almost two years of intense diplomatic effort.

"We've a lot of hard work to do. There are some very tough issues, and I think we all look forward to getting down to the final efforts here to see whether or not a deal is possible," Kerry said at the start of talks with Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna.

"I think everybody would like to see an agreement. But we have to work through some difficult issues," Kerry added before reporters left the room, saying he was "hopeful".

Zarif said negotiators "need to work really hard in order to be able to make progress and move forward. "We are determined to do everything we can to be able to make this effort possible. Of course, that depends on a lot of things and we're going to work on it," Zarif added.

Days before a June 30 deadline that officials admit may slip a few days, diplomats say the mooted accord finalising a framework accord agreed in April in Lausanne, Switzerland by Iran and six major powers is far from done.

"Some major problems exist which are still blocking the work... but in other areas we have made good progress," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said yesterday. This was echoed by a Western diplomat, who said that several key issues remain "extremely problematic".

"The most difficult issues need to be resolved in the coming days: transparency, inspections, PMD (possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme), sanctions... On the major issues there is major disagreement," the diplomat said.

A deal, it is hoped, would put an end to a standoff dating back to 2002 that has threatened to escalate into war and has poisoned the Islamic republic's relations with the outside world.

In return for downsizing its activities and allowing closer UN inspections, Iran, which denies wanting nuclear weapons, would see the progressive lifting of UN and Western sanctions that have choked its economy.

Even if negotiators manage a deal, it will be closely scrutinised by hardliners in Iran and the United States, as well as Iran's regional rivals Israel, widely assumed to have nuclear weapons itself, and Saudi Arabia.


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