Iran proposes fully implementing nuclear pact within a year: U.S

UNITED NATIONS Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:33pm EDT

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran proposed carrying out an agreement to address concerns about its nuclear program within a year at talks with major powers on Thursday, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his counterparts from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States at the United Nations to discuss the nuclear issue and then stepped into a side room for one-one-one talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Zarif made a "thoughtful" presentation about the next steps that Iran and the six powers might take to try to resolve the standoff, which has eluded solution for a decade.

"He made a presentation. It was thoughtful. He ... laid out what Iran's interests were - their desire to come to an agreement and to do so, fully implemented, in a year's time," the U.S. official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"Not only come to the agreement, but fully implement the agreement in a year's time," the official added.

"He reassured everyone that Iran does not want nuclear weapons and all of the reasons why it made no sense for them to have them and then laid on the table some ideas that he had about how we should go forward," the official said.

That 30-minute session was the highest-level official meeting between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ushered in a more than three-decade estrangement between the two nations.

Over the last decade, the most salient of the many disputes between the two has been Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is a cover to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies this, saying its program is for solely peaceful, civilian purposes.

While U.S. and other officials said the wider meeting had a positive tone, they emphasized the challenge of resolving the nuclear dispute and the importance of Iran both making concrete proposals on how to settle it and then implementing any deal.

"It was a useful insight into Iranian interests, thinking, process, what their timeline is, but we will have to sort through this," the official said.

The United States hopes Iran will offer more detailed ideas before Zarif, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the political directors from the six powers meet in Geneva on October 15 and 16 to follow up, the official said.

"In the two years I have been doing this, no Iranian has sat down and said in such extensive terms here is what we're going to talk about," the official said of Zarif's presentation. "But again we are still a long way from any agreement."

The official said the Obama administration would continue to vigorously implement its existing sanctions and favored working with the U.S. Congress on imposing additional ones.

"We are in conversations with Congress now. We want to make sure we have flexibility for the negotiating track but we have always been a dual-track policy, both engagement and pressure, and that pressure comes through sanctions," the official said.

Asked what was meant by "flexibility," the official said this was to ensure that there would be waiver authority or other provisions that would give the administration some latitude on how to implement the sanctions.

"We would hope that anything that goes forward does that as well," the official said.

"If we can make progress, and it's a big if - I would put that in capital letters, italics and bold - if we can make progress on the negotiating track and the day comes when there are sufficient concrete results on the table to either suspend or ultimately lift sanctions, we want to be able to do so," the official said.

(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (3)
US certainly has a warped sense of negotiations, rose in one hand and a dagger in the other, don’t blame the Iranians for not trusting them.

Sep 26, 2013 11:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
US certainly has a warped sense of negotiations, rose in one hand and a dagger in the other, don’t blame the Iranians for not trusting them.

Sep 26, 2013 11:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ChangeIranNow wrote:
Iran can’t be trusted! John Kerry must approach any negotiations with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif with the utmost caution and skepticism. Iran’s verbal overtures are contradicted by their actions as exemplified by its backing terrorists in Iraq and Lebanon and assisting Assad in his brutal murder of over 100,000 Syrians. They have yet to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and still seek its destruction. The international community should be extremely worried that Iran is seeking nuclear fuel outside of the approved avenues of low-enriched nuclear fuel rods, but is instead seeking raw mineral that it can enrich itself to weapon grade. Iran poses an even bigger threat, since its nuclear arms stockpile is thought to be the largest in the Middle East, with longer-range missiles currently in the planning stages. If Iran wants nuclear power for peaceful uses, it has to submit to inspection and buy fuel rods and not enrich its own. During the negotiations, Javad Zarif will demand massive sanctions relief, which he will receive from an anxious administration desperate to keep Iran from a nuke. Once the Iranian economy is stabilized and the oil starts flowing, Khamenei will give into his irresistible urge to break out to a weapon and test it. At that point, Khamenei and Rouhani will have achieved their objective of a nuclear armed Iran with a stable economy and regional dominance. Actions speak louder than words and so far Iran has merely engaged in rhetoric and nothing more. Pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran is desirable, but we need to see Iran change its ways not just its words. Iran also needs to clean up its human rights record and halt the barbaric practice of public hangings, as well as reopen dissident news media and release political and religious prisoners. Iran also needs to halt its foreign adventures in supporting terror groups and smuggling arms in places like Syria. I am highly doubtful that this will occur given his long and loyal service to the regime as outlined on this site: Economic sanctions can be quickly lifted if Iran’s leaders, especially Khamenei, took some of these steps but I am not hopeful of such a change in direction. Therefore, Iran needs to be held accountable and sanctions shouldn’t be lifted simply based on promises, but on concrete action.

Sep 27, 2013 11:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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