Washington, 1 Jul – 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.
“Given past behaviour on the part of Iran, that can’t simply be a declaration by Iran and a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while; that’s going to have to be a serious, rigorous verification mechanism”.
“If we can’t provide assurances that the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are closed, and if the verification regime is inadequate, then we’re not going to get a deal. And we’ve been very clear to the Iranian government about that”.
“There has been a lot of talk on the other side from the Iranian negotiators about whether, in fact, they can abide by some of the terms that came up in Lausanne. If they cannot, that’s going to be a problem — because I’ve said from the start I will walk away from the negotiations if, in fact, it’s a bad deal”, he said.
The other P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia – which are involved in the negotiations with Iran agree with the US position, Obama stressed.
Tuesday was the official deadline to reach a long-term deal that would build on the preliminary agreement in Lausanne to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the sides had agreed to extend the preliminary agreement “until July 7 to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry resumed negotiations on Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who returned in the morning from consultations in Tehran.
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.
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.
Kerry and Zarif are expected to hold further talks on Wednesday, but no meeting had been confirmed yet, Reuters said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are to fly to Vienna to join Iran nuclear talks, a French diplomat said Wednesday, according to AFP.
The two men will arrive Thursday afternoon in the Austrian capital, the diplomat said. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is also expected to return to the city as global powers give themselves an extra week to reach a deal.
The head of the UN nuclear agency Yukiya Amano will be in Tehran on Thursday to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other officials, an Iranian official said on Wednesday.
“Amano will meet Rouhani and [the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council] Ali Shamkhani during his Tehran visit,” the official said.