Araqchi: N. Deal Possible but Difficult

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and one of the country’s top nuclear negotiators, said there is a chance for Iran and the six major world powers to reach a nuclear agreement in Geneva, but described such a deal as a tough job.

Araqchi: N. Deal Possible but Difficult

Speaking in a press conference in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday, the Iranian negotiator said the two sides can hammer out a deal in the fresh round of nuclear talks, but noted that it would be a laborious process.

Senior diplomats representing Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) are now in the Swiss city to start the second day of the fresh round of negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

This is the second time in a month that Geneva is hosting representatives from Iran and the group of six major world powers. They had three days of intensive talks on November 7-9.

During the previous round of talks, the two sides managed to narrow their differences on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, though there were hitches that stopped them from reaching an interim deal at the end of the talks.

Araqchi said the main obstacle to the progress of talks in this round was the Iranian delegation’s distrust of the other side, because there were disagreements among G5+1 members in the previous round of negotiations.

“If such mistrust is not revived, the talks will not make progress,” he noted.

“We should hear a consistent voice from the six countries, and should make sure that the other side would enter (talks) with a consistent voice and would not make excessive demands.”

Araqchi also pointed to the necessary measures that the two sides should take as the first step to approach a final agreement, and added,“Definitely, (removal of) oil and banking sanctions will be part of the other side’s measures within the first step.”

He, however, made it clear that both Iran and the G5+1 have agreed on “balanced and proportional” moves in the first step.

During the previous round of Geneva talks on October 7-9, Tehran presented a three-step plan with the aim of bringing the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear program to an end. The plan was called "An End to the Unnecessary Crisis and a Beginning for Fresh Horizons".

As regard the issue of uranium enrichment inside Iran, Araqchi said enrichment is “one of the most important, critical and difficult” debates in the negotiations, but asserted that any possible agreement has to recognize Tehran’s right to enrichment.

“We will not approve of any deal if it does not include enrichment from its beginning to its end… What is important for us is the existence of enrichment in the context of the agreement.”

Iran's foreign minister had earlier said Tehran expects the six major world powers to “respect” its right to enrich uranium based on the regulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“Iran enrichment right has no need to be recognized because it is an indivisible right based on the NPT. What we expect is respect for the components of Iran's right,” Zarif said on Sunday.

Optimism in the current round of talks was also mirrored by Russian President Vladimir Putin who said Moscow is hopeful about the latest talks held in Geneva.

Speaking after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow on Wednesday, Putin expressed hope that "in the nearest future a mutually acceptable solution is found" to end the West's nuclear standoff with Tehran.

And as American officials met with counterparts from the G5+1 and Iran in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that all sides are closer than they have been in a long time on a nuclear deal. But they stressed it has not been reached yet.

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