World powers present Iran with new proposal that would ease sanctions without closing Fordo
Tehran expresses satisfaction with the revised proposal, which allows Iran to continue holding enriched uranium stockpiles; no changes offered on EU petroleum embargo.
The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations were concluded on Wednesday with an offer scaling back the demands placed on Iran. According to the new proposal, Iran would be required to suspend operations in the underground uranium enrichment center in Fordo - without entirely shutting it down. Also, it would be allowed to hold stockpiles of 20-percent enriched uranium.
Members of the U.S. negotiating team disclosed details of the revised proposal presented to Iran by the so-called P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China) in the talks held at Almaty, Kazakhstan.
According to the proposal, Iran would not be required to remove all of its 20-percent enriched uranium out of the country. Instead, it would be allowed to retain amounts sufficient to produce medical isotopes at the Tehran research reactor.
Iran was asked to allow more frequent visits by monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prevent it from accelerating its nuclear program before the IAEA can detect the accelerated progress. In exchange, the six world powers would suspend some sanctions and agree not to impose new ones.
Not up for negotiation at this stage is the European Union’s petroleum embargo against Iran. The P5+1 would, however, apparently be amenable to easing sanctions against trading in gold and petrochemicals with Iran, as well as some of the sanctions against Iranian banks.
Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, meanwhile told reporters at a press conference in Almaty that the talks were “positive” and that some of the Western proposals were “more realistic than those presented in the past and made an effort to approach the positions of Iran.”
Jalili added that the Western delegations had suggested the two sides carry out confidence-building measures over the next six months. Jalili stated that Iran will not give up its right to enrich uranium and will not close the Fordo underground facility.
A delegation of senior U.S. officials who participated in the Almaty talks will arrive in Israel on Thursday to brief officials here on the discussion. The delegation will be led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who heads up the U.S. team for the nuclear talks with Iran.
Sherman and her team are scheduled to meet with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror; the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for strategic affairs, Jeremy Issacharoff; and other high-ranking Israeli officials to brief them on the positions put forth by Iran and on the talks scheduled in the months to come.
A relatively low-level round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 is scheduled to meet in Istanbul on March 18 to discuss the finer points of both sides’ proposals. The heads of the seven delegations’ negotiating teams plan to head back to Almaty for follow-up meetings April 5-6.
Britain’s national security adviser, Sir Kim Darroch, visited Israel on Wednesday, speaking with a number of senior officials in meetings that centered on Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, who is in charge of Washington’s economic sanctions against Tehran, held similar talks during his two-day visit to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he was pessimistic about the West’s ability to achieve a breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations.
During a meeting with Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Netanyahu said, “There are no measures that will make Iran heed the demands of the international community aside from military sanctions against it.”
Netanyahu said Iran does not intend to end its military nuclear program and that it continues to provoke the international community.
“Just like North Korea, Iran continues to violate all international standards,” he said. “Therefore I believe that the world must tighten the sanctions and make it clear that if it continues with its plan there will be military sanctions.”