France says 'decision time' has come in Iran nuclear talks

Published: 2015/7/12

France's foreign minister appeared to put pressure on the United States and Iran on Saturday to speed up nuclear talks, saying all issues were now on the table and that the time had come to make a decision.

Western and Iranian diplomats close to the talks said they expected to work well into the night in hopes of a breakthrough, perhaps as early as on Sunday, on a deal to bring sanctions relief for Tehran in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

Iran and the six powers involved in the talks - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - have given themselves until Monday to reach a deal, their third extension in two weeks, as the Iranian delegation accused the West of throwing up new stumbling blocks to an accord.

"Now that everything is on the table, the moment has come to decide," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement sent to Reuters after speaking to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Among the biggest sticking points this week has been Iran's insistence that a United Nations Security Councilarms embargo and ban on its ballistic missile program dating from 2006 be lifted immediately if an agreement is reached.

Russia, which sells weapons to Iran, has publicly supported Tehran on the issue.

However, a senior Westerndiplomat said earlier in the week the six powers remained united, despite Moscow's and Beijing's well-known dislike of the embargos.

Western powers have long suspected Iran of aiming to build nuclear bombs and using its civilian atomic energy programto cloak its intention - an accusation Iran strongly denies.

Other problematic issues in the talks are access for inspectors to military sites in Iran, answers from Tehran over past activity and the overall speed of sanctions relief