U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with fellow P5+1 foreign ministers, as well as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (center), listening as European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton speaks at United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, after the group concluded negotiations about Iran's nuclear capabilities on November 24, 2013. (CC/State Department
Negotiations in Geneva regarding the implementation of the Iranian nuclear plan reached in November 2013 gained traction after three rounds of meetings, with officials announcing on Sunday that the "outstanding issues" were resolved and finalized, clearing the way for implementation of the agreement on January 20.
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European External Action Service announced the agreement to implement the Geneva Joint Plan of Action concerning the Iranian nuclear program.
"I am pleased to announce that outstanding issues on the implementation of the initial measures were resolved and finalised in a meeting between EEAS Deputy Secretary General Helga Schmid, acting on my behalf, and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi on 9 and 10 January in Geneva. This was subsequently endorsed by all capitals.
"The E3/EU+3 and Iran have now reached a common understanding on the implementation modalities for a first step of six months of initial measures as set out in the Geneva Joint Plan of Action of 24 November 2013. The technical understandings on the concrete measures to be implemented by both sides had been worked out in three rounds of intensive technical experts' meetings of the E3/EU+3 and Iran, partly also involving the IAEA. Thanks to this agreement on the implementation modalities, the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation of the Joint Plan of Action over the six month period have been laid.
"The E3/EU+3 and Iran will now start the implementation of the first step on 20 January 2014. We will ask the IAEA to undertake the necessary nuclear related monitoring and verification activities."
Professor Matteo Fumagalli with the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Central European University in Budapest told UPI about the potential ramifications for the agreement, noting that Iran's continued cooperation could lead to "greater inclusion of Iran in tackling regional challenges" such as Syrian conflict meetings, to which Iran has requested a seat. In the immediate term, Sunday's EU announcement "paves the way to a possible permanent accord." When that time comes, if it comes in the six months' time, "THAT would be a game-changer, not only for bilateral relations but for regional politics."
The Geneva Joint Plan of Action was reached in November. Delegates from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United States -- known as the E3+3 or P5+1 -- met with Iranian officials throughout 2013 to negotiate a cessation or reduction in Iran's nuclear program.