Washington: The next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries (comprising the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany) would be held in Vienna on July 2, a top US diplomat has said.
"On July 2nd, we will be back in Vienna to begin the next round of negotiations. I expect that the pace and intensity of our meetings will somehow manage to increase, though I can`t quite imagine after this week how that will be, but they will," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, said yesterday as the latest round of discussions with Iran concluded in Vienna.
"We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations. Our conversations this week have been very tough but constructive. We reviewed every element that we believe should be included in a comprehensive plan of action and had very intensive sessions focused on the very hard work of drafting text," she said.
The goal remains to reach a comprehensive agreement that ensures Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon and that its program is entirely peaceful, she said.
Noting that officials from the member nations would be working round the clock to meet the July 20 deadline to reach an agreement, she said the US and the rest of the P5+1 remained committed to a joint comprehensive plan of action that achieves this objective.
"What is still unclear is whether Iran is really ready and willing to take all of the steps necessary to assure the world that its nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful. As we`ve noted before, Iran`s leaders have insisted from the outset that they don`t want and have never intended to develop a nuclear weapon," she said.
"If that is indeed the case, then a good agreement is obtainable. Iran would be able to achieve comprehensive sanctions release over time," She said.
? Sherman said it was critical that "we give this process every chance to succeed in exchange for taking verifiable steps that will provide assurance that their program is exclusively peaceful".
According to a senior administration official, if the deal is not reached by July 20, as scheduled, the P5+1 countries would not mind in extending the deadline for a few days. "What is most crucial and what is undeniable is that the P5+1 and the European Union are 100 per cent unified on the objectives here, and that is to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon and that the world is assured that their program is exclusively peaceful.
"And there is absolute unanimity on that objective. And because that is the paramount interest for every country sitting at the table, we have been able to maintain that unity," the official said.