There remains a lot of work to be done to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program, US Secretary of State John Kerry told delegates at the UN on Monday.
But “we’re closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer,” Kerry said.
“The hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved,” he added.
Kerry was speaking at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) conference at UN headquarters in New York.
Kerry also met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the NPT conference, marking the first time the two come together to discuss the issue since they agreed on a framework agreement in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 2.
Zarif, for his part, raised concerns about Washington’s commitment to the Lausanne agreement apparently in reference to US Republican promises to derail the deal reached last month.
“Beside taking part in the conference, we have come here to listen to Americans’ explanations on the US administration’s undertakings and its domestic policies,” Zarif said during an interview with Iranian media.
In early March, a Senate led by Republicans and their Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began pushing legislation that would give the body sign-off on any deal that could be reached between the White House and Tehran. The Obama administration warned that Tehran could perceive such a move as a lack of commitment and failure to meet promises.
Zarif warned that no government, including the US, can “evade” to meet its commitments because of domestic issues.
“We consider the US government responsible for fulfilling its international commitments under international laws,” he said.
The Lausanne agreement states that Iran will curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of punitive economic sanctions.
The tentative text states that Iran would be allowed to keep some of its nuclear research, limiting the number of centrifuges (needed to produce fissile material for an atomic bomb) to about 1,000.
However, the centrifuges would contain no fissile material.
Iran would also have to submit to very intrusive inspections by weapons experts in the months ahead.
But the greatest point of contention – which has already produced a series of contradictory statements in Tehran and Washington – is how quickly sanctions will be removed.
Kerry said earlier this week that he is confident a final deal will be signed on June 30.
The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies