Iran nuclear talks: Historic deal may be reached soon

Today, one of the key stumbling blocks in the Iranian nuclear talks regarding an arms embargo may drop out of the picture as the P5+1 can’t reach a unanimous decision on it. Thus, a deal may be reached soon, says journalist Gareth Porter.

Diplomats in Vienna are in for another day of marathon nuclear talks with Iran. Today is the deadline for a deal to be reached - but there's speculation that it could be pushed back again.

RT:There have been over a decade of talks and this latest deadline's been moved several times already - do you think today will be the day?

Gareth Porter: I’m inclined, at this moment at least, to think that it’s likely that there will be an agreement although there is no absolute assurance at all. There are some signs that certainly point in that direction: The fact that they have made such good progress in recent days in clearing out the brackets from the text, which is a very tough negotiating problem. It takes time, it takes hours in some cases just to get rid of a single word or a phrase and they have been continuing to make that progress. It appears that both sides clearly have the will to do so, despite perhaps some posturing that we’ve heard from John Kerry in recent days suggesting that “we are not where we need to be.” Nevertheless, the general picture is that they have made progress; that progress has continued. My understanding is that one of the key stumbling blocks remaining, if not the main stumbling block, which is the arms embargo, whether it’s going to be part of the Security Council resolution text or not, which the P5+1 in the past has been pushing for, the US has pushed for. That may in fact now be dropping out of the picture because the P5+1 cannot even muster a strong majority or a unanimous decision in favor of it. So I think that’s another favorable sign that there will be an agreement tonight.

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RT:The problem with previous agreements between the West and Iran was that right after they were signed, it turned out each side had its own interpretation.How do you avoid that this time?

GP: One of the things that is going to distinguish this agreement from previous forms of agreement in these negotiations is that there is a commitment by both sides to a joint fact sheet, which was of course the problem last time around: After Lausanne both sides or the United States issued a fact sheet, the Iranian side didn’t issue an official fact sheet, but ended up basically leaking material or somebody leaked material to the Iranian press. So I think this time there is a commitment to avoid that problem.

RT:It's now reported that the main contentious issue that's preventing the deal is UN sanctions on Iran. What do you think is the main stumbling block here?

GP: It’s difficult to identify a real major stumbling block at this point that is going to hold up an agreement. The research and development question - whether Iran will be allowed to continue to work on advanced centrifuge designs has been identified in the past but that’s a question which lends itself to negotiation over precise dates and it’s difficult to believe that that issue itself would hold up an agreement. So at this point I think the main problem of the sequencing and timing of sanctions relief appears to be on its way to being solved, and that leads me to believe that none of the other issues would be allowed to prevent an agreement.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.