Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, claimed on Tuesday night that Iran and the six major world powers had reached a preliminary agreement on “all the key aspects” of a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program and the sides have begun drafting the text, Russia Today reports.
Diplomats close to the negotiations rejected the claims as untrue, however.
Experts from Iran and the so-called P5+1 have started drafting a preliminary deal and the document could be expected either within the next few hours or later on Wednesday, Lavrov said, adding that the “technical details” of a final deal may take until June.
“We can quite certainly say that on all the key aspects of the final settlement of this problem, the ministers have reached principal consent that will be, hopefully in the next hours, maybe a day, put on paper. The experts were tasked with this,” Lavrov told reporters, according to Russia Today.
The preliminary agreement will include the verification of mechanisms guaranteeing the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program and will stipulate the lifting of sanctions, he added.
“The agreement includes an all-encompassing approach to the settlement [of Iran’s nuclear issue], including methods of verification of the nuclear program’s exclusively peaceful nature by the IAEA, as well as extensive provisions on lifting sanctions,” Lavrov was quoted as having said.
A diplomat close to negotiations, meanwhile, told Reuters it was “not true” that agreement was reached on all key issues, without specifying any stumbling blocks that remain.
Lavrov’s declaration came hours after the sides decided to continue the negotiations beyond the self-imposed Tuesday night deadline and extend them by at least a day.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said enough progress had been made to warrant an extension, although there still were "several difficult issues" to bridge.
It has been charged that President Barack Obama is "desperate" to seal a deal and score a foreign policy "achievement," even as Israel and other sources warn the deal threatens to leave the Islamic regime with the ability to rapidly produce a nuclear arsenal at the time of its choosing.
Strengthening concerns that a bad deal is being formed, an aide to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who defected last week revealed the American negotiating team is just speaking "speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the P5+1 countries and convince them of a deal."