London, 2 Jul – British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond cautioned on Thursday that nuclear talks between world powers and Iran are not yet at a “breakthrough moment”.
“The work goes on. You are going to see ministers coming and going to maintain the momentum of these discussions. I don’t think we’re at any kind of breakthrough moment yet and we will do whatever we need to do to keep the momentum”, Hammond told reporters upon arrival in the Austrian capital.
The British Foreign Secretary is on his second visit to Vienna in a week as negotiators from the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – and Iran try to strike a deal whereby Tehran would curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Hammond was holding talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry who is scheduled to later meet European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The French and German foreign ministers will also be in Vienna on Thursday, joining the talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Russia has not announced any plans for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to join the talks on Thursday.
Tuesday was the official deadline to reach a long-term deal that would build on the preliminary agreement in Lausanne, but the seven countries have agreed to extend the deadline until 7 July to allow more time for negotiations.
Diplomats have said the real deadline is 9 July, the latest the deal can be presented to the US Congress to limit to 30 days a mandatory review period before Obama can begin suspending sanctions. After that, the review would last 60 days, with growing risks a deal could unravel.
US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that there would be no nuclear deal if Tehran does not agree to “serious, rigorous” inspections of its facilities.
“The goal of the nuclear negotiations is not to rely on trust, but to set up a verifiable mechanism where we are cutting off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon”, Obama said.
Iran’s main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), last week published a 28-page report stating that Iran has been trying to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact and retain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. It said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had put red lines for international inspectors having access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and any halt to nuclear Research and Development (R&D).
The NCRI, the group which first blew the whistle on Iran’s secret uranium enrichment and heavy-water sites in 2002, on Wednesday also warned that without “complete unrestricted access” to international inspectors to monitor Iranian military facilities, Iran could not be trusted to abide by the terms of the international agreement.
It published a partial list of Iranian nuclear sites that it had exposed and which Tehran had previously kept secret.
The head of the UN nuclear agency Yukiya Amano is in Tehran on Thursday meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other officials.