U.S.: Unclear Whether Iran is Willing to Take Necessary Steps
A senior U.S. official said on Friday that it is unclear whether Iran is ready to take the steps necessary to assure the world its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful, Reuters reports.
The comments by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who has been leading the U.S. team in the negotiations with Iran, came at the end of the latest round of talks between Iran and the six world powers, aiming to turn an interim deal signed in November into a comprehensive settlement by July 20.
Sherman said the fifth round of Vienna talks produced a "working document" that is "heavily bracketed" due to remaining disagreements, making clear much work remains to reach a deal, according to Reuters.
"What is still unclear is if Iran is really ready and willing to take all the necessary steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful," she said.
Iranian leaders had repeatedly insisted that their nuclear program has solely peaceful energy purposes, said Sherman, who added, "If that is indeed the case, then a good agreement is obtainable."
A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the six powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - were united in their demand for a reduction in the number of Iran's nuclear enrichment centrifuges and other demands being put to Tehran's delegation.
"The (six powers) and the European Union are 100 percent 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," the official told Reuters.
Asked if that agreement on objectives included all specific demands being put to Iran regarding limits on its future nuclear program, including numbers of centrifuges, the official said yes. "There are very, very difficult decisions to be taken here by Iran," the official added.
Sherman said the six powers would meet among themselves in Brussels on Thursday with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating the talks ahead of the next round of negotiations in Vienna scheduled for July 2.
"Between now and July 20, we will be working virtually around the clock to achieve the plan we seek," she said, according to Reuters. "We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations."
Earlier Friday, Iran informed the six major powers on Friday it would not accept their "excessive demands".
Throughout the talks, Iran has declared that it will never give up on what it sees as its right to uranium enrichment.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)