Opportunity for nuclear deal is now: Iran
9 February 2015, Nirapad News: With an approaching deadline on reaching a nuclear deal with Tehran, Iranian officials on Sunday signaled a willingness to come to an agreement, with Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif telling a gathering of the world’s top diplomats and defense officials that “this is the opportunity.” The United States and its five negotiating partners, the other members of the UN Security Council and Germany, hope to clinch a deal setting long-term limits on Tehran’s enrichment of Uranium and other activity that could produce material for use in nuclear weapons.
Both sides are under increasing pressure ahead of two deadlines: to agree on main points by late March, and to reach a comprehensive deal by June 30.
Zarif said that now was the window of opportunity to come up with a final deal. He met individually at the Munich security conference with each country involved, except France which was scheduled later Sunday.
“This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity,” he said. “It may not be repeated.”
Following a 90-minute morning meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, their second meeting on the sidelines of the conference, he said he felt that progress had been made in the past months and suggested it would be unproductive to further extend negotiations.
“I do not believe another extension is in the interest of anybody,” he said. “We’re reaching the point where it is quite possible to make an agreement, and I do not believe anything will be different a year down the road.”
Details of Sunday’s discussion with Kerry were not immediately available, but in their meeting on Friday, Kerry pressed Zarif on the Obama administration’s desire to meet an end of March target date for the outline of a nuclear agreement.
Iran says its programme is solely for energy production and medical research purposes. It has agreed to some restrictions in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from US economic sanctions.
Zarif suggested if it took slightly longer to come to an agreement than the set deadlines, it would not “be the end of the world.”
Zarif said all sanctions against his country should be lifted, saying that if they had been intended to stop its nuclear ambitions they had failed. He said when sanctions had been imposed, Iran had 200 centrifuges, and “now we have 20,000.” “Sanctions are a liability, you need to get rid of them if you want a solution,” he said.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that he would rather see no deal reached with major powers on his country’s nuclear programme than one that undercut national interests. His comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry met Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for a second time on the sidelines of a security conference in Germany, to ratchet up efforts for a lasting nuclear accord.
“I agree with a deal that can take place but I do not agree with a bad deal,” the Iranian leader said to the press. “The Americans keep reiterating that it’s better to have no deal than a bad one. I fully agree with that,” he told air force commanders.
“It’s better to have no agreement than one that goes against our national interests.” Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters of state in Iran, leaves the day-to-day administration of policy to President Hassan Rouhani and his government, but periodically speaks out on the nuclear talks.
Rouhani has made the lifting of Western sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear programme his government’s top priority.