IAEA Will Not Be Able To Completely Monitor Iran’s Nuclear Program (Daniel 8:3)

How much monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities is enough?
IAEA inspectors barred from nuclear site_634655870263373836_main
Ariane Tabatabai

Ariane Tabatabai is a visiting assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown

As nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers head into a new phase, one of the key bones of contention will involve monitoring and safeguards—those measures designed to ensure that Tehran is complying with international obligations, declaring all of its nuclear activities, and refraining from weaponization. The foreign powers argue for more transparency, while Iran retorts that its nuclear program is already subject to the most intrusive inspection regime in the world and thus it should not have accept more.

So who is right? Are current inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enough? Or should Iran allow its nuclear program to be subject to more monitoring?

The goal of safeguards. IAEA safeguards serve as an early warning mechanism, aimed at verifying that countries are abiding by their international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are meant to reassure the international community that any non-nuclear-weapon state that is party to the NPT, and has or is developing a nuclear energy program, doesn’t use its facilities or material for military purposes. Materials subject to safeguards include highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium, as well as thorium and depleted, natural, and low-enriched uranium (LEU).

The IAEA conducts verification in a number of ways, including monitoring facilities by installing surveillance cameras and tamper-indicating seals, taking environmental samples, and checking inventories of nuclear material. Before all this can happen, though, a state needs to have concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, as required under the NPT.These agreements typically entitle the IAEA to, at a minimum, the three most common kinds of access:  First, ad-hoc inspections to verify the state’s initial declaration. These usually require one week’s notice, but in the case of trying to verify certain international transfers, the IAEA may provide only 24-hour notice. Second, routine inspections, as suggested by their name, provide the most frequent type of access. Depending on the type of facility, they are generally announced to the government in advance. Again, the notice period is usually one week, but in some cases the IAEA conducts them without advance notification. Third, there are special inspections. The IAEA may use special inspections if it believes that the state has failed to provide adequate information for it to perform its obligations under the agreement.

Under comprehensive safeguards agreements, if the IAEA is unable to verify that nuclear material isn’t being diverted, or the country is found to be in non-compliance—for instance, it is allowing nuclear material to be diverted for prohibited purposes, or failing to declare all material and facilities—the IAEA may report the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Iran and the IAEA differ in their interpretation of the comprehensive safeguards agreement text. In a June 2014 communiqué to the IAEA, Tehran argued that the IAEA is only required to verify that no declared material is diverted. Its mandate doesn’t include verification of “the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a Member State.” Likewise, the IAEA’s access to open source information doesn’t “authorize it to require a Member State to provide information or access beyond its safeguards agreement.” In other words, according to Tehran, the IAEA has to verify that the information provided by a state is “correct,” but not that it is “complete.” The IAEA argues that it is, in fact, authorized to verify completeness, citing text from Article 1 of the comprehensive safeguards agreements (including the one signed between Iran and the IAEA), which reads, “The Government of Iran undertakes … to accept safeguards, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within its territory.”
Where Iran stands. Iran was one of the original signatories of the NPT. It became a member of the IAEA in 1959 and concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement in 1974, which it has been implementing ever since. Tehran—and many others—say that the inspection regime in Iran is among the most intrusive in the world. That’s not necessarily true, though, as some of the most comprehensive safeguards are implemented in Japan. In particular, an IAEA inspector is on site at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant 24 hours a day. Iran claims that based on the number of days inspectors spend in the country, it is subject to the most intrusive inspections, but that reasoning is flawed, as time spent in-country is not a measure of intrusiveness. Much of the time the IAEA inspectors spend there is to monitor activities, and while this is important, it does not increase the international community’s knowledge about the content and scope of the nuclear program. In fact, despite having spent years in the country, the IAEA is still unable to verify the correctness and completeness of the information Tehran has provided.

In 2003, the IAEA began to release what has since become a regular report on the implementation of the safeguards agreement by Iran. Since Tehran and the world powers (China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States) concluded their Joint Plan of Action in November 2013, the IAEA’s reports have also provided information on the status of Iran’s compliance with its additional undertakings under the deal.

Many in Iran, but also elsewhere, view the comprehensiveness of the IAEA inspections in Iran as an indication of bias. But Tehran did legally bind itself to the NPT and its safeguards agreement and has sometimes fallen short of providing the necessary information for the IAEA to verify the “completeness and correctness” of its declaration. This in turn means that the Agency has not been able to verify Tehran’s full compliance with its international obligations. As a result, Iran has been subject to an inspections regime more intrusive than those normally found in other states with comprehensive safeguards agreements.

Under Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement, it is required to grant the IAEA access to its nuclear facilities and material. Currently, the IAEA has access to all of the declared Iranian facilities, including the most controversial and technologically sensitive ones, such as the Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities. In short, the IAEA has access to many nuclear activities undertaken in the country. Tehran also grants access to the IAEA to verify some of the measures it has taken under the interim deal, including the downblending of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) that had been enriched up to 20 percent. All these activities are monitored and detailed in the IAEA reports. (The IAEA would certainly want to verify downblending if it occurred in other countries; what is different with Iran is that it has promised to downblend.)

Failures to report. Iran has agreed under its comprehensive safeguards agreement to provide design information relating to new facilities “as early as possible” and before any nuclear material is introduced. In 1993, it agreed to provide such information as soon as the decision to construct or to authorize construction of a facility is taken. The submission of design information has been a source of contention in the past. Some facilities, including those at Natanz and Arak, were first revealed to the world by dissident groups or Western sources, and only later declared by Tehran to the IAEA. Tehran also failed to report a couple of tons of uranium it received from China, its own uranium conversion activities, and the use of some of these materials in laser enrichment installations and centrifuge testing at the Kalaye Electric Company in the 1990s.

The Joint Plan of Action between Iran and its negotiating partners provides for some “enhanced monitoring” measures, which manifest themselves in more “frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA,” in the US State Department’s understanding. Consequently, since the deal was signed in November, 2013, the IAEA and Iran have updated some monitoring procedures, permitting inspectors to review surveillance information on a daily basis, which would shorten detection time for any non-compliance. But this is only useful for activities that can be seen using surveillance cameras; anything else could go undetected. These facilities also remain subject to other additional measures, including daily inspection of the surveillance records for the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. (Natanz had previously been inspected biweekly and Fordow weekly.) The utility of these daily inspections has been questioned: While a continuous presence is important at a reprocessing plant, such as Rokkasho, it may not be necessary at enrichment facilities, where the quantity of material is not as significant. Daily inspections could, however, constitute a confidence-building measure.

The Joint Plan of Action also provides for managed access to the country’s centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops, and storage facilities, as well as to uranium mines and mills. Additionally, Tehran has provided information about its plans for nuclear facilities (16 power plants, 10 enrichment facilities, and one light water reactor); all of the existing buildings on these sites; and the uranium mines (Gachine and Saghand) and mills (Ardakan). It has also provided design information that the IAEA had been seeking.

Possible military dimensions. All of the measures described above apply only to Iran’s declared nuclear activities, undertaken as part of its regular nuclear energy program. Tehran’s negotiating partners, the IAEA, and the world are also concerned about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program. The evidence, they argue, suggests that Iran has carried out weaponization-related activities, some of which, the IAEA believes, may be ongoing. Trying to settle the question, the IAEA requested that it be permitted to visit the military site Parchin, not normally subject to the Agency’s authority.

Tehran granted access to inspectors in 2005. But the visit didn’t satisfy the IAEA, which has been requesting a visit to areas of Parchin that its inspectors didn’t see before. Iran argues that the IAEA is not entitled to access the facility, given that it’s a conventional military complex where sensitive yet non-nuclear-related activities are carried out.

What Iran can do. There are several measures Iran could take to build confidence in its peaceful intentions. For instance, in 2003 it signed an additional protocol to the NPT safeguards agreement saying that it would provide the IAEA with an “expanded declaration” of its nuclear activities, as well as more access to its nuclear sites, but it only briefly implemented the protocol from 2003 to 2006. Undertaking more obligations while the talks are ongoing would be difficult for President Hassan Rouhani’s government. However, at least implementing the additional protocol, pending its entry into force—that is, voluntarily applying its measures—would further consolidate Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful. It would also help undermine arguments to the contrary.
Iran’s relationship with the IAEA has had ups and downs in the past few decades. Some in Iran believe that the agency hasn’t always acted within its mandate, that it has disclosed confidential information to other states, and has, at times, acted with bias, in the interest of other states. The IAEA for its part has said that it hasn’t been able to verify that Iran’s nuclear program is purely peaceful. Nevertheless, the country continues to implement its comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional measures under the Joint Plan of Action. With the talks between Iran and the world powers continuing over the next few months, Tehran’s ability to work with the agency will be crucial to the continuation of the negotiating process and the possibility of reaching a comprehensive deal on its nuclear program. Ideally, Iran would ensure that the additional protocol enters into force. This would be a tough sell domestically in the current climate. Once a deal is reached, however, Iran should both implement the additional protocol and begin to provide more information on possible military-related issues to the IAEA.

Doing so will help launch a new chapter in the country’s nuclear program with a cleaner slate. It will be particularly helpful if the country plans to build an industrial-scale nuclear program with a number of reactors on its territory, as it has said it will. By voluntarily disclosing some military-related information, the country would restore trust in its nuclear ambitions and be able to proceed with fewer obstacles in the future. In other words, what critics in Iran may perceive as concessions could, in fact, be conducive to long-term gains, facilitating the development of its nuclear program.

Antichrist Tries To Cut Off Babylon The Great (Daniel 8:6)

Iraqi Politicians: US Not Doing Enough Against Extremists, Time To Scrap Cooperation
ISIS-in-Iraq-graphic-jpg
| عربي | کوردی
niqash | Mustafa Habib | Baghdad | 15.01.2015

Recently Iraq’s Kurdish were thanking the USA but for some Iraqi politicians, not enough is being done.

The US has been leading an international alliance against the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq. But locals say the US is not doing enough. Politicians in Baghdad recently led a call to scrap the strategic agreement the two countries have had since 2008. Could this be a symptom of Iran’s ever-growing influence in Iraq?

Four months have passed since the US began to work with an international alliance to confront the threat of the extremist group, the Islamic State, in Iraq. Yet for many locals, there don’t seem to be any obvious results.

The Islamic State, or IS, group still has control of over around 70 percent of the province of Anbar as well as other cities, like Tikrit and Baiji in Salahaddin province as well as parts of Diyala and Kirkuk.
As a result of what appears to be something of a stalemate, some Iraqi politicians have started to question an essential agreement between Iraq and the US, known as the Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq. It’s known as the SFA for short.

As the US Embassy in Iraq’s website describes the agreement, which was signed in November 2008, it, “guides our overall political, economic, cultural, and security ties with Iraq”.
Section 3 of the SFA describes the close cooperation between the two signatories on defence and security in Iraq. Yet slowly but surely Iraqis are starting to question: Why can’t a superpower like the US defeat the IS group?

And last week Iraqi MPs began to push for answers, with some even suggesting a cancellation of the SFA. Among them was Alia Nassif, an MP for the ruling State of Law party, a Shiite Muslim-majority party headed by both the current and former Prime Ministers of Iraq. “Iraq does not benefit from the security agreement with the US,” a statement from Nassif’s office said. “On the contrary the agreement has become a heavy burden on us because the US has not fulfilled one of its stated obligations – strengthening and supporting the democratic system in Iraq. The IS group threatens the whole existence of the Iraqi state.”

Nassif also noted that the international alliance fighting against the IS group, which is being led by the US, isn’t large enough or consistent with the strength of the American nation, which could defeat the extremists within weeks if it wanted to.

Niazi Mimar Oglu, the MP representing the interests of Turkmen in Iraq’s Parliament, was another politician calling for the end of the SFA. “This agreement prevents Iraq from getting weapons from other countries because the US promised to give Iraq arms,” Oglu told NIQASH. “But the US hasn’t kept its promise, especially at a time when we are in desperate need.”

These kinds of criticisms appeared to be the motivation that the Ahrar block in Baghdad – the political wing of the movement led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who was always vehemently opposed to the US presence in Iraq – needed to start collecting signatures so that the proposed end of the SFA could be discussed in Parliament.

The Iraqi Constitution says that if 25 MPs can agree, they can propose a general topic for discussion in Parliament. If MPS can win over 215 others in the 328-seat Iraqi Parliament then they can also overturn agreements like the SFA.

However, as Ahmed al-Rubaie, an expert on international law*, points out, most of the politicians calling for the end of the SFA don’t really understand what it’s about.

“The agreement isn’t actually binding for either party,” he says. “And it doesn’t define the size or nature of US support to Iraq in security-related issues. The agreement contains expressions of support but it in no way defines what the size of, or nature of, this support should be.”

Al-Rubaie says that either party could do everything – or nothing – and there would be no legal consequences. There are no punitive clauses in the SFA if either party doesn’t abide by it. So putting the words into action is optional, for both Iraq and the US.

Besides the growing political opposition to the SFA, locals have also been perturbed by recent reports coming from unofficial Shiite Muslim militias fighting alongside the regular Iraqi army. They say that the US has managed to drop weapons and supplies to areas controlled by the IS group. So the extremists are getting these supplies, they say.
The Ali al-Akbar Brigade, a Shiite Muslim militia fighting in Salahaddin province, said they saw a US military helicopter throw weapons into the Yathrib area occupied by the IS group. Additionally two other militias – the League of the Righteous and the Peace Brigades – reported similar events.
However it is also important to consider where these complaints are coming from. Most of them originate from Shiite Muslim politicians and militias, who may well be more influenced by aid from Iran than from the US. Both nations are helping Iraqis in the fight against the IS group – the Iranian assistance has gone from slightly more covert to very much overt in recent days with leading Shiite Muslim militia commander, Hadi al-Ameri, declaring his thanks for Iranian salvation.

*Ahmed al-Rubaie is also the name of a regular NIQASH correspondent. However this story features a different individual.

12 Warnings To New York Of The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

2.2 Magnitude Quake Is the 12th in a Week
CT_Sesimograph_new_87964441
By Jessie Sawyer, Kate Rayner and LeAnne Gendreau
AFP/Getty
Thursday, Jan 15, 2015 • Updated at 9:50 AM EST

The ground shook again in Eastern Connecticut on Thursday morning as the area experienced its 12th earthquake in a week.

On Friday local and state officials will be holding meetings to inform residents and discuss how prepared the state is should a damaging earthquake strike here.
The U.S. Geological Survey listed the earthquake at 4:39 a.m. in the Moosup section of Plainfield as a magnitude-2.2.

It occurred two days after geophysicists from Weston Observatory at Boston College, including Justin Starr, visited the area to investigate the frequent activity and brought seismometers to detect movement in the surface of the earth.

Their goal is to find the epicenter and determine whether eastern Connecticut is experiencing an “earthquake swarm,” similar to one that the Bar Harbor area of Maine experienced several years ago.
Ninth Recent Earthquake in Plainfield Ninth Recent Earthquake in Plainfield Officials say another earthquake hit Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. (Published Tuesday, Jan 13, 2015)

Star said earthquakes are not abnormal from time to time in New England, and they sometimes come as “earthquake swarms,” which he described as several earthquakes in fairly quick succession.
For instance, there were more than 40 earthquakes in the Bar Harbor area of Maine over several weeks in 2006 and 2007, but the activity then died down, Starr said.

“Is this on the same scale as that? Too soon to tell. It may just die down or it may capture a few more quakes, but it’s no surprise to us,” Starr said.

This photo from the New England Seismic Network shows quakes on Jan. 14, 2015.
Earthquakes, centered in Plainfield, have rattled Eastern Connecticut every day for the last four days and 12 times since last Thursday.

On Friday morning, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will hold a multi-agency briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center to discuss the state’s preparedness should earthquakes continue and begin to cause damage.

Later in the day, a public forum will be held to provide information and answer residents’ questions.
The Board of Selectmen in Plainfield, along with the Plainfield Police Department and Office of Emergency Management will hold an informational session at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 16, at Plainfield High School Auditorium about the earthquakes.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there have been small earthquakes in New England since colonial times, with moderately damaging quakes happening every few decades and smaller earthquakes around twice per year.

On Wednesday, the area experienced its 10th and 11th earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Survey listed the 6:33 a.m. earthquake in Plainfield as magnitude-2.0. Then, at 8:10 a.m., there was a 1.8 magnitude quake in Plainfield.

Tuesday, the Weston Observatory at Boston College recorded a magnitude 2.1 earthquake, an aftershock from a larger earthquake the day before.

Stronger Earthquake Hits Eastern Connecticut Stronger Earthquake Hits Eastern Connecticut A 3 point 3 magnitude quake knocked pictures off walls and left homeowners more shaken than several smaller quakes that hit the Plainfield area in the last week (Published Monday, Jan 12, 2015)
Tuesday’s quake happened at 7:27 a.m. and was centered about 3 and a half miles south-southwest of Danielson, according to the observatory.

On Monday, there were several earthquakes in the area including a magnitude-3.3 temblor at about 6:30 a.m. that day that was the strongest in the series of quakes. Here is the full list of activity since the beginning of the year.

Earthquake Timeline in January 2015:

1) Jan. 8: 9:28 a.m. — 2.0 magnitude quake, centered in Plainfield
2) Jan. 9: 10:26 a.m. — 0.4 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
3) Jan. 12: 6:33 a.m. — 1.6 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
4) Jan. 12: 6:34 a.m. — 1.5 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
5) Jan. 12: 6:36 a.m. — 3.3 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
6) Jan. 12: 6:50 a.m. — 2.1 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
7) Jan. 12: 12:03 p.m. — 1.7 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
8) Jan. 12: 1:04 p.m. — 1.6 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
9) Jan. 13: 7:27 a.m. — 2.3 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
10) Jan. 14: 6:33 a.m. — 1.8 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield.
11) Jan. 14: 8:10 a.m. — 1.5 magnitude earthquake in Plainfield
12) Jan. 15: 4:39 a.m. — 2.2 magnitude earthquake, near Moosup

Nuclear Deterrence Is A Fool’s Game (Revelation 16)

Reconsidering Deterrence Stability
nuclear-bombs
By | 14 January 2015

What benefits are conferred by nuclear weapons? Do they provide status? Not like in the past. North Korea and Pakistan haven’t gained status by having the Bomb. Instead, they have become more worrisome countries. Do they alleviate security concerns? Possessing nuclear weapons against a similarly-armed foe or against an adversary with stronger conventional capabilities provides a sense of deterrence, dissuasion, and national assurance. To give the Bomb its due, during the Cold War, nuclear weapons helped keep border skirmishes limited between major powers, fostered cautionary behavior in severe crises, and reinforced a natural disinclination to engage in large-scale conventional wars. These were – and remain — significant accomplishments.

But the Bomb always promises more than it delivers. Possessing the Bomb, even in significant numbers, has not deterred limited border clashes between nuclear-armed states, conventional wars with non-nuclear-weapon states, punishing proxy wars and severe crises. The Bomb isn’t stabilizing; it exacerbates security dilemmas and can engender risk taking as well as caution. The Bomb promises advances in security that are quickly undercut by countermeasures taken by wary adversaries.
States that acquire nuclear weapons don’t feel safe without them. They also do not feel safe with them – if they have something to fight about with another nuclear-armed state. Having assured retaliatory capabilities helps, but assurance erodes in an interactive nuclear arms competition. A key threshold for erosion occurs when the contestants move from counter value to counterforce targeting. Increments in counterforce capabilities lead to and decrements in deterrence stability – even under conditions of absurd nuclear overkill.

Strategic and deterrence stability are about political relations, not technical advances. The United States and the Soviet Union never achieved deterrence stability until the Soviet Union was heading toward collapse. Brief periods of détente were interrupted by clashes of interest in far away as well as sensitive places. Constraints on nuclear testing and arms limitation treaties negotiated with great effort were accompanied by modernization programs that lessened mutual security. Deterrence stability between the superpowers was accomplished only when two unorthodox leaders – one whose economy was cratering – threw nuclear orthodoxy out the window and sought to normalize ties.
India and Pakistan will find deterrence stability as elusive as the nuclear superpowers, even though their nuclear competition pales in comparison and they have not yet embraced counterforce targeting for longer-range delivery vehicles. Deterrence stability on the subcontinent, as elsewhere, rests on the prospect of resolving or mutually agreeing to defer issues in dispute and, in Pakistan’s case, regaining a monopoly on the use of violence within and across its borders. In the near term, these prospects are iffy, at best. Deterrence instability is inherent when an interactive nuclear arms competition gets mixed up with religion, inheritance, and regional security issues, not to mention a history of conventional and sub-conventional warfare.

There’s more hope for India and China to work out arrangements of deterrence stability — if their border dispute remains shelved or resolved, and if they manage to avoid venturing into counterforce capabilities. The combination of a quiet, albeit contested border, plus growing trade and investment ties alongside mutual strategic restraint would make for a stabilizing mix. But this won’t be easy.
For more on the contested valuation of nuclear weapons, aspiring wonks can check out a volume of essays, Nuclear Diplomacy and Crisis Management, co-edited by Sean Lynn-Jones, Steve Miller, and Steve Van Evera (MIT Press, 1990). Robert Jervis’s essay argues that nuclear weapons have only limited utility is preventing war:

“It is rational to start a war one does not expect to win… if it is believed that the likely consequences of fighting are even worse. War could also come through inadvertence, loss of control, or irrationality… At best, then, nuclear weapons will keep the nuclear peace; they will not prevent – and indeed, may facilitate – the use of lower levels of violence.”

John Mueller’s essay in this volume – and his provocative book, Atomic Obsession (2010) – argues otherwise, “that nuclear weapons neither crucially define a fundamental stability nor threaten severely to disturb it.” Here’s more from Mueller:

“Escalation is key: what deters is the belief that escalation to something intolerable will occur, not so much what the details of the ultimate unbearable punishment are believed to be.”

“It almost seems … that the two major powers have forgotten how to get into a war… There hasn’t been a true, bone-crunching confrontational crisis for over a quarter-century.”

“Since preparations for major war are essentially irrelevant, they are profoundly foolish.”
This week’s pop quiz: Do Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Vladimir Putin’s actions into eastern Ukraine support Jervis, Mueller, or both?

Babylon The Great And Iran Hasten To The Fire (Revelation 15:2)

US, Iran hold ‘important’ talks to hasten nuclear deal

Source: Daily Times

Post Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif huddled in an upscale Geneva hotel, ahead of full negotiations with global powers which resume on Sunday. They are seeking to break a stalemate which has caused them to miss two previous deadlines for a full agreement to rein in Iran’s suspect nuclear programme.

Zarif told reporters Wednesday’s talks were important. “I think it will show the readiness of the two parties to move forward to speed up the process.” But asked if there would be a comprehensive deal by the July 1 deadline, he remained cautious replying: “We’ll see.” Past negotiations have stumbled reportedly over Iran’s insistence that it retain the right to enrich some uranium – which can in some cases be used to make an atomic bomb – for what it says is a peaceful civilian nuclear programme.

There has also been disagreement over global sanctions, with Tehran calling for an end to an iron-fisted regime which has crippled Iran’s economy, while the US has insisted on a temporary, gradual suspension. Negotiators have worked hard to keep details of their differences secret though, and when asked about the thorniest matters still clouding the talks, Zarif would not go into detail.

“All issues are hard until we resolve them and all issues are easy if you resolve them,” he told reporters travelling with Kerry, as he waited to greet the top US diplomat in his hotel. Kerry has said the aim of his talks with Zarif on Wednesday is to take stock and provide guidance for their negotiating teams ahead of fresh discussions by global powers known as the P5+1 here on Sunday.