Iran sees nuclear talks with powers finishing within year: official

DUBAI Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:17am EDT

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani takes questions from journalists during a news conference in New York September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani takes questions from journalists during a news conference in New York September 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran believes it can wrap up negotiations with world powers over its disputed nuclear program in one year or less, Iranian media quoted its chief nuclear negotiator as saying.

At talks last week, the first since moderate President Hassan Rouhani's election in June, Tehran offered a three-phase plan it said could yield a breakthrough in the stand-off after years of diplomatic paralysis and increasing confrontation.

"If we see the same seriousness in future negotiations which we saw in the (October 15-16) Geneva negotiations, we believe that within six months to one year we can conclude the negotiations,"

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with the state-owned, Arabic-language Al Alam television channel.

"Perhaps within three months or six months we can reach a conclusion regarding the first step," he said, in remarks that were published on Monday by ISNA news agency.

The United States and its European allies suspect Iran is working towards a nuclear weapons capability, and have levied sanctions on Iran's energy, banking and shipping sectors that have battered the Iranian economy and caused a currency crisis.

Iran denies it is after nuclear weapons, saying its uranium enrichment program is purely for peaceful energy purposes.

The six world powers dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue are the five permanent U.N. Security Council members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - plus Germany.

Washington described last week's negotiations as the most serious and candid to date, and the parties have agreed to meet again in Geneva on November 7-8. Nuclear and sanctions experts from both sides are to meet before the next main round of talks.

But all sides have stressed that wide differences must still be overcome to nail down a deal.

HOPEFUL OF BRIDGING DIFFERENCES

"Certainly there are serious differences between us and the other side," Araqchi said, according to ISNA. "We even have deep disagreements with each other. Despite this, we are hopeful we can achieve a common resolution to this dispute."

Araqchi reiterated that Iran would not stop refining uranium, saying domestic enrichment was a right of the Iranian people - but that the extent of enrichment was negotiable.

Iran has so far defied U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities.

Western officials have said Iran should increase the transparency of its nuclear program, stop enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity - a short technical step away from weapons-ready fuel, reduce its uranium stockpiles and take other steps to assure the world it does not want atomic weapons.

Iran says 20 percent enrichment is meant to provide fuel to run its Tehran medical research reactor, although Western diplomats and analysts say Iran has produced well over the amount it would realistically need for such a purpose.

"This right (enrichment) itself is not up for negotiation," Araqchi said. "Enrichment is part of the end goal ... but its dimensions and amount are negotiable."

Rouhani has sought to end Iran's isolation, partly in order to win an end to sanctions. Araqchi praised the United States for bringing one of the Obama administration's leading sanctions experts to the Geneva talks.

"The presence of this individual during the negotiations and the explanations they gave showed that the Americans at least are ready to show they are serious," Araqchi said.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Jon Hemming and Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (7)
Lemming wrote:
One question: What about the fictitious Red-line drawn by Israeli leadership and cosigned by many in the United States?

Oct 21, 2013 9:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jabotito wrote:
From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats and sent its own children through mine fields. It hangs gays and stones women. It has violated every Security Council resolution calling them to stop enrichment. It supports Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people. Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terror. It sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians. Iranian terror tried to kill or actually killed innocent civilians in Buenos Aires, Beirut, Berlin, France, Switzerland, Thailand, Georgia, India, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Nigeria, Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Canada and many others (at least 24 countries in five continents in the last three years alone). Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans. In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 American servicemen. In the last decade, its been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and it denies the Holocaust. Iran brazenly calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day. They have ambitions for regional and global domination in order to expand the Islamic revolution, as their own constitution proclaims. This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons. Iran will be even more reckless and far more dangerous. Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regime won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons. Such an Islamofascist teocratic dictatorial regime must not have nuclear weapons.

It’s not “simply” the danger of the ayatollahs using their future nuclear bombs to erase Israel from the map or attacking US soil with long-range missiles. A nuclear arsenal means that the Iranian theocratic regime will never be toppled internally or externally (immune as North Korea), it will be able to blackmail half of the world (including Europe), to threaten its neighbors (countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates or Egypt already announced that they will begin their own nuclear race if the Iranians obtain the bomb), to promote terrorism with impunity on a global scale (perhaps to deliver non-conventional weapons to terrorist groups), to prevent Israel from defending itself against aggressions by Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad (logically, the dream of all Israel haters)… Besides a conventional war in a region so inclined to armed conflicts could easily derive into a nuclear Apocalypse if the ayatollahs had the bomb. An effective policy to contain or dissuade a nuclear armed Iran would be impossible… is the world capable of containing a non-nuclear Iran right now? Bazinga! Then how do you think the world will be able to contain a nuclear armed Iran tomorrow? You people talk too much about the cost of stopping Iran, but you deliberately ignore the cost of not stopping Iran while there is time.

Oct 21, 2013 10:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jabotito wrote:
Lemming: Don’t worry. The red line hasn’t been crossed yet.

Oct 21, 2013 10:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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