Iran, World Powers May Meet Again Next Week

Iran and world powers are likely to meet next week to discuss implementation of Geneva deal, says Deputy Iranian FM.

Elad Benari,

Previous round of talks in Geneva
Previous round of talks in Geneva

Iran and world powers are likely to meet "next week" to discuss implementation of a deal they clinched on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, Iran's lead negotiator said Sunday, according to AFP.

The breakthrough accord struck on November 24 between Iran and the P5+1 - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany - foresees Tehran rolling back some of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The interim deal aims to build confidence while Tehran and the P5+1 hammer out a comprehensive agreement.

"Possibly our experts will hold a meeting next week in Vienna or Geneva to review the details of implementing the agreement," state broadcaster IRIB quoted deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi, Iran's lead negotiator in the talks, as saying.

Araqchi added that the first phase of the accord, which will be in force for six months, will be implemented once the finer details have been thrashed out.

It has been unclear when the accord was due to take effect, with technical discussions between Iran, the powers and the IAEA, whose job verifying Tehran's compliance will be key, set to work out the details.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said last week that the start date has not yet been set.

Tehran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reza Najafi, indicated on Friday that Iran's six-month freeze of its nuclear program would start by early January.

Araqchi gave no date for the next round of talks but the local ISNA news agency, citing an Iranian official, said political directors of the countries involved were expected to meet with IAEA officials in Vienna on December 9 and 10.

"The goal of that meeting is to set a date for the inspection (by IAEA experts) of the Gachin (uranium) mine in Bandar Abbas province and the implementation of four other articles of the agreement," the unnamed official said.

Last week’s deal has been met with criticism by Israeli leaders who say the agreement left Iran dangerously close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the deal. During that conversation, the two reportedly agreed that Israeli and American teams would hold consultations on the permanent agreement.

On Thursday it was reported that Obama had asked Netanyahu to “take a breather” from his criticism of the deal.

In his remarks on Friday, Najafi also slammed Israel, accusing the Jewish state of attacking its neighbors and committing atrocities.

"Israel, sitting on 200 nuclear warheads all of them targeted at Muslim cities ... is crying wolf about nuclear proliferation,” Najafi told the UN nuclear agency.

“This regime (has) a long history of aggression against neighbors, atrocity against peoples under occupation and clandestine development of all kinds of” weapons of mass destruction, he added.

In response, Joseph Macmanus, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, said that Najafi’s anti-Israel comments were “inflammatory … and wrong.”