London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran and the P5+1 world powers have agreed to extend negotiations to reach a final comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by four months, until November 24.
The interim agreement reached last November, which was set to expire on July 20, has also been extended, allowing Iran to access an additional 2.8 billion dollars of previously frozen assets. In exchange, Iran will continue to converting its stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium, only a short technological step away from weapons-grade uranium, to fuel for medical research reactors.
But in a statement from Vienna, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that of sanctions would remain in force and the “vast majority” of Iran’s frozen oil revenues would remain inaccessible.
Announcing the extension, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a joint statement. The full text reads:
“We, together with the Political Directors of the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), have worked intensively towards a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, building on the political momentum created by the adoption and smooth implementation by both sides of the Joint Plan of Action agreed on 24 November 2013. We are grateful to the Austrian government and the United Nations for their tremendous support in hosting these negotiations in Vienna.
“We have held numerous meetings in different formats, and in a constructive atmosphere, to reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.
“During the past few weeks, we have further intensified our efforts, including through the active involvement of E3+3 Foreign Ministers or their Vice Ministers, who came to Vienna on 13 July 2014 to take stock of progress in the talks. While we have made tangible progress on some of the issues and have worked together on a text for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, there are still significant gaps on some core issues which will require more time and effort.
“We, together with the Foreign Ministers of the E3+3, have therefore decided to extend the implementation of measures of the Joint Plan of Action until 24 November 2014, in line with the timeframe that we envisaged in the Joint Plan of Action. Iran and the E3/EU+3 reaffirm that they will continue to implement all their commitments described in the Joint Plan of Action in an efficient and timely manner.
“We will reconvene in the coming weeks in different formats with the clear determination to reach agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action at the earliest possible moment.”