Iran and West 'Closer' to Agreeing on Deal Implementation
Iran and world power representatives agreed on Friday on how to implement a landmark deal on containing Tehran's nuclear program, but stamps of approval from each country are still needed before it can take effect, reports AFP.
Two days of talks in Geneva between high-level Iranian and EU negotiators "made very good progress on all the pertinent issues," Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said.
Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi, who Friday evening wrapped up two days of intense talks in Geneva with Ashton's deputy Helga Schmid, agreed.
"We found solutions for all the points of disagreement," he told Iranian state-run TV.
The EU represents the so-called P5+1 group of world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - in the decade-long nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Top U.S. nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman also briefly met with Araqchi and Schmid on Thursday.
Negotiators had previously said they want to implement the groundbreaking November 24 deal, which aims to rein in Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief, by January 20.
But Araqchi stressed Friday that although differences on how to put it into action had been ironed out, "the implementation of the Geneva agreement depends on the final ratification of the capitals".
He would not confirm that the target implementation date remained January 20, stressing that too would be decided by the each country's government, who he said would soon each issue a statement on the issue.
Mann confirmed to AFP that the progress made in Geneva this week "is now under validation at (the) political level in capitals".
On Wednesday it was reported that the negotiations had run into problems over advanced centrifuge research.
Under the November deal, Iran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for receiving modest relief from international sanctions and a promise by Western powers not to impose new measures against its hard-hit economy.
Technical experts from both sides have since November held several sessions in Geneva aimed at fine-tuning the deal.
But when experts held four days of talks last month in Vienna -- home of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the Iranians walked out after Washington expanded its sanctions blacklist against Tehran.
This week in Geneva, Araqchi and Schmid pored over three outstanding issues, repeatedly breaking off discussions so Schmid could consult with each of the six countries she represented, Araqchi told Iranian TV Thursday evening.
The negotiations had been "good, constructive and intense," he said Friday, without revealing which issues had been debated.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that while the technical talks were making good progress, reports that a deal had been finalized were inaccurate.
"There have been a few outstanding issues, but at this point, the reports that everything has been finalized are incorrect," she told reports, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, as nuclear talks resumed, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that negotiations with the U.S. about Iran's nuclear program are part of a tactic to stall international pressure and gain time.
"We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the U.S.) to deter its evil," said Khamenei in Qom. He further claimed "the nuclear talks showed the enmity of America against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims."
In the United States on Friday, the bill initiated by the Congress to slap new sanctions on Iran was continuing to gain steam, with 59 senators backing the initiative - just one short of the number of votes it would need to pass.
The White House has vowed to veto the bill if it makes it out of Congress.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)