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UN Sanctions Main Obstacle to Iran Nuclear Deal Hitting Deadline

Saturday, 28 Mar 2015 08:07 PM

(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s insistence on an immediate lifting of United Nations sanctions is a main obstacle to securing a framework agreement on its disputed nuclear program by March 31, five European and U.S. diplomats said.

The Western powers negotiating with Iran have proposed lifting UN sanctions in four to six years, according to the officials who asked not to be named, in line with diplomatic rules. Some sanctions may remain in place for as long as a decade, they said.

The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, is expected to offer fresh proposals when he arrives on Sunday morning, according to two people involved in the talks.

Talks between the Persian Gulf nation, which holds the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, and six world powers continued Saturday for a fourth day in Lausanne, Switzerland. The sides are in danger of missing a self-imposed end-of-March deadline needed to set up a comprehensive deal by July 1.

Iran continues to insist that all sanctions must be lifted once it agrees to place curbs on its nuclear activities. The UN Security Council, the U.S. Treasury Department and the European Union have all levied economic sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on Saturday that while headway had been made on sanctions relief, there was more to do.

“They have realized that sanctions pressure and an agreement will not go together,” Zarif said. “I see that Germany and France are really serious about reaching an agreement.”

Oil Sanctions

The European and U.S. approach focuses on first suspending and then permanently removing sanctions over the lifetime of a deal. Oil sanctions could be lifted within months of an agreement if Iran agrees on a deal that limits its nuclear capacity and allows for broader international verification, one European diplomat said.

By contrast, Iran wants UN Security Council sanctions lifted immediately.

“Our president has expressly said that the removal of sanctions has to take place immediately when an agreement is reached,” Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier this month in his New Year address to the nation. “The U.S. keeps repeating that we’ll sign a deal with Iran and see if it abides, then we’ll remove the sanctions. This is wrong and unacceptable.”

Russia’s View

Earlier on Saturday, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said that narrowing disagreements put chances of meeting the March 31 deadline at “significantly higher than 50 percent.”

“If we don’t manage to agree this time, this shouldn’t lead to a complete reassessment,” because the deadline for a final deal is not until the end of June, Ryabkov said.

Parties are close to an agreement on turning Iran’s Fordo enrichment facility into a medical isotope production center, an official at the talks said. While Iran would be prohibited from enriching uranium at Fordo, centrifuges would be allowed to produce molybdenum and other isotopes, according to the official’s account.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, along with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, joined Saturday’s talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due in Lausanne on Sunday.

China in an earlier round of talks this month proposed ways to address lifting UN sanctions.

--With assistance from Gregory Viscusi, Ladane Nasseri and Jonathan Tirone in Lausanne, Switzerland.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Lausanne, Switzerland at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net; Kambiz Foroohar in Lausanne, Switzerland at kforoohar@bloomberg.net; Indira A.R. Lakshmanan in Lausanne, Switzerland at ilakshmanan@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Ros Krasny, Stephen West

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

 
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2015-07-28
Saturday, 28 Mar 2015 08:07 PM
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