LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Iran’s chief negotiator in nuclear talks played down Wednesday the likelihood of an agreement this week, saying the discussions have not progressed to a point where the presence of all involved parties was needed to formalize a deal.
On the third day this week of direct talks with Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted in Iranian state news media as saying that foreign ministers of the other world powers involved in the negotiations — Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — would not be required to fly to Lausanne just yet. They have been on standby during the talks between Kerry and Zarif.
“I don’t think their presence will be needed in this round because when the solutions are found and we approach a deal, then all the foreign ministers of the negotiating parties should come,” Zarif said. Officials from the five other world powers have been negotiating alongside the United States for a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program and ease international sanctions.
The negotiations, which have also involved teams of experts on nuclear technology, are bogged down over complicated technical issues. The United States wants to ensure that Iran would have no less than a one-year “breakout” period, defined as the time it would need to produce the fissile material required for one nuclear bomb, if Tehran’s leadership decided to pursue nuclear weapons.