The E3+3 – the USA, Russia and China, as well as Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the European Union – and Iran met on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York. It was their first meeting since the historic success achieved in negotiations in Vienna on 14 July. While Foreign Minister Steinmeier considers the implementation of the agreement to be on track so far, he said that the acid test was still to come in the next few weeks. Steinmeier hopes that the momentum achieved in Vienna will also help to resolve the conflict in Syria.
After over twelve years of wrangling over the Iranian nuclear programme, the E3+3 managed to reach an agreement in Vienna in July 2015. The historic agreement provides for strict controls and aims to ensure that Iran’s nuclear activities will be purely of a civilian nature for the foreseeable future, thus preventing Tehran from gaining access to nuclear weapons. In return, the economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran will be gradually lifted. A so-called “snap-back” mechanism will reinstate the sanctions, however, should the Iranian Government fail to keep to their end of the agreement.
The E3+3 have now met again in this constellation for the first time on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly and discussed details concerning the implementation of the Vienna agreement. While Foreign Minister Steinmeier considers this process to be on track, he pointed out that:
The acid test is still to come. In the coming weeks, Iran must start to reduce its stockpiles of enriched uranium and dismantle its centrifuges and heavy-water reactor. The sanctions will only be lifted once the IAEA has confirmed that Iran has fulfilled its obligations. And only then, perhaps at the beginning of next year, will we know whether the Vienna agreement was a success.
“All important actors at one table”
Steinmeier also expressed the hope that the “momentum of the Vienna agreement” will make itself felt also in terms of the conflict in Syria. “What we achieved in Vienna must inspire us to seize the opportunity now to seek solutions to the urgent crises in the Middle East together with the countries in the region – above all for the conflict in Syria,” said Steinmeier. In order to achieve a political solution, all important actors need to meet at one table, he added, which necessarily includes Iran as a key player in the region. Steinmeier expressed the hope that the successful negotiations in Vienna could be used as a basis for moving forward.