Western Diplomat Tells Haaretz: Optimism for Nuclear Deal on Monday

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets with his Iranian counterpart Zarif; two diplomats say provisional deal may be ready Sunday.

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Barak Ravid
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Iranian protesters mark 'Al-Quds Day' in Tehran, July 10, 2015.
Iranian protesters mark 'Al-Quds Day' in Tehran, July 10, 2015.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

A Western diplomat told Haaretz on Sunday that there was optimism about a possible conclusion and announcement on a nuclear deal with Iran on Monday.

"We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we're certainly not going to start now - especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks," a State Department official said.

Later on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Two diplomats were quoted by The Associated Press as saying that a provisional nuclear deal between western powers and Iran will likely be ready on Sunday, adding that an announcement on the matter was planned for Monday.

France's foreign minister said on Sunday that he hoped major powers and Iran have at last entered the final stages of their nuclear negotiations, although work still remained.

"I hope, I hope, that we are finally entering the final phase of this marathon negotiation," Laurent Fabius told reporters after returning from an emergency cabinet meeting in Paris on the Greek crisis.

Fabius said he would take part in meetings throughout the afternoon, including one with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were also due to join the talks in Vienna.

An Iranian official said earlier Sunday that a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers was within reach by the end of the day, but added that some issues remained that needed to be resolved by foreign ministers.

"The deal is within reach today ... but some issues remain that need to be resolved by foreign ministers," the official told Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Vienna on Sunday that the sides were "getting to some real decisions. So I will say, because we have a few tough things to do, I remain hopeful."

Report: Iran says nuclear deal includes lifting of all sanctions

A member of Iran's negotiating team to the nuclear talks in Vienna said Sunday that a draft of the nuclear agreement being formulated stipulates that all of the economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted, but temporary restrictions will remain in place for a period of time, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

According to the official, all of the economic sanction and bank-related sanction will be lifted immediately after the agreement is adopted. The source said that even the embargo imposed by the UN Security Council since 2006 will be lifted, and temporary restrictions on arms trading with Iran would be placed on Iran for a period of time. According to the source, none of the clauses in the agreement deviate from the red lines presented by Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamanei.

Netanyahu: Iran burns flag, while West pushes concessions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Sunday slammed world powers over the imminent nuclear deal with Iran being discussed in Vienna, the deadline for which has been extended to July 13.

"Iranian leader [Ali] Khamenei has said that the U.S. should be fought even if an agreement is reached, [Iranian President Hassan] Rohani is heading a hate march in which U.S. and Israeli flags are being burned and calls for death to America and Israel are being made, and at the same time, concessions are being offered to Iran," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister added that the deal currently in the works paves a path for Iran to create multiple nuclear bombs and endangers the world at large.

"Iran is not hiding its intentions to continue with its murderous aggression against those who are now negotiating with it," Netanyahu said. "Maybe the powers are willing to give in to a reality underwritten by Iran, which includes unending calls for the destruction of Israel. But we will not accept that."

In his briefing to ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting about the talks, Netanyahu said the upcoming deal reminded him of the agreement signed with North Korea in 1994 – adding that the world knew how that turned out. He showed the ministers a video of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, praising that deal in its aftermath.

Ali Khamenei said at a meeting with students in Tehran over the weekend that the struggle against the United States will continue even if a nuclear deal should be reached.

The U.S. is "the absolute embodiment of arrogance," Khamenei said. "The Iranian nation must be ready to continue the struggle against the arrogant world powers," Iran's English-language PressTV reported.

Khamenei's statements are possibly an attempt to prepare Iranian public opinion for an impending deal with the West.

Though intensive negotiations took place in Vienna during the weekend it is still unclear if the sides are nearing an agreement. Both sides hint that the talks won't be extended any further than the current deadline on Monday, but it is difficult to ascertain whether these hints are authentic or a tactical maneuver, meant to increase pressure on the other side.

During the weekend, the U.S. negotiation team head, Wendy Sherman, updated National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel Yossi Cohen about the progress in the negotiations for the first time since the latest round of talks began.

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