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U.S. Official: Breakthrough with Iran Won't Happen Overnight

Washington is ready to offer Iran relief from sanctions if Tehran addresses concerns over its nuclear work, says a senior U.S. official.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/15/2013, 3:46 AM

Nuclear facility (illustrative)
Nuclear facility (illustrative)
Flash 90

Ahead of a new round of talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program, a U.S. official said Monday that a breakthrough will not happen quickly.

"No one should expect a breakthrough overnight," the senior U.S. administration official told reporters, according to Reuters.

Washington is ready to offer Iran rapid relief from economic sanctions if Tehran moves quickly to address concerns that the ultimate goal of its nuclear work was to make bombs, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Any potential sanctions relief would be "targeted, proportional to what Iran puts on the table,” he clarified.

"I'm sure they will disagree about what is proportionate," the official said. "But we are quite clear about what the menu of options are and what will match what."

Iran and the six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - will hold talks in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday. This round of talks will be the first one since the election of President Hassan Rouhani.

On the eve of the talks, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the so-called "P5+1" in negotiations, had dinner with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"We had a good dinner," Zarif told Reuters as he returned to his hotel after the two-hour dinner at the Iranian diplomatic residence in Geneva.

When asked if he had given Ashton details of an Iranian proposal, he responded: "Proposal is for tomorrow."

Since being elected, Rouhani, who has been branded a moderate by the West, has urged the world to seize the opportunity of his election to resolve the nuclear dispute.

Rouhani wants sanctions imposed by the West on his country lifted and has indicated he favors a quick deal to end a stalemate to talks on the nuclear program, which have dragged on for eight years.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi, said on Sunday that while Iran is open to talk with the West, Iran’s right to enrich uranium is non-negotiable.

Asked about the possibility of Iran being asked to remove nuclear materials from the country, the deputy foreign minister said that Iran “will never give up what the Iranians are entitled to based on international conventions.”