Iran wants all Western sanctions to be lifted as part of a deal on its contested nuclear program by a November deadline, a top official said Wednesday.
The announcement came amid intensifying efforts to conclude a definitive pact. The six powers in the talks with Iran – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1 – have set November 24 as the deadline, after failing to meet the previous July 20 target.
Building on a UN Security Council sanctions resolution passed in 2010, the United States and EU in 2012 imposed major sanctions against Iranian oil and gas companies and strengthened restrictions on the country’s central bank.
The chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions was “unacceptable.”
“If we want a definitive accord on November 24, there must be an immediate lifting of sanctions,” he told a news conference in Paris.
A Western diplomat close to the negotiations with Iran on Monday said a firm deal by the deadline was highly unlikely, saying Tehran would have to make “significant gestures.”
The aim is to close avenues towards Tehran ever developing an atomic bomb, by cutting back its enrichment program, shutting down suspect facilities and imposing tough international inspections.
In return, the global community would suspend and then gradually lift crippling economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.
But the two sides, despite long-running talks, remain far apart on how to reconcile their objectives.
Last year in Geneva, Iran and the six powers reached an interim agreement under which Tehran won some easing of sanctions in return for halting its most sensitive nuclear work.
One sticking point is the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep under a deal.
Iranian officials say they would be willing to live with fewer centrifuges provided they were more advanced machines that enrich more uranium at a faster pace. Their goal is to ensure that the volume of uranium they enrich is not reduced as a result of any long-term accord with the six powers.
Western officials say this is not a real compromise.
The United States, France, Britain and Germany would like the number of centrifuges Iran maintains to be in the low thousands, while Tehran wants to keep tens of thousands in operation. It now has about 19,000 installed, of which about 10,000 are spinning to refine uranium.
The United States and some of its allies suspect Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic bombs which they believe would threaten the security of the area. Iran denies this, saying that it is enriching uranium solely for civilian energy purposes.
Israel has repeatedly threatened to use military force against Iranian atomic sites if diplomacy fails to defuse the standoff. Israel is thought to be the only – albeit undeclared – nuclear power in the region.
Source: Al-Akhbar English