US Denies Russia’s Claim On Draft Agreement At Iran Nuclear Talks – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — U.S. diplomats at the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland are denying claims by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that a draft framework agreement has been reached between Tehran and six world powers that includes proposals to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program.
Speaking early on April 1, after the talks were extended beyond a self-imposed deadline of midnight on March 31, Lavrov said a draft agreement was reached covering “all key issues” that had yet to be resolved.
Saying that a final deal is “completely reachable,” Lavrov said experts would work out the remaining technical details in the weeks ahead with the aim of reaching a final nuclear agreement by the end of June.
Lavrov told the TASS news agency: “One can say with enough confidence that [foreign] ministers have reached a general agreement on all key aspects of a final settlement to this issue. It will be put down in writing over the next few hours, maybe during the day.”
But despite Lavrov’s upbeat assessment, U.S. diplomats at the talks said it was “not true” that an agreement had been reached on all key issues.
Obstacles that remained as foreign ministers from Iran and the six world powers and European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini began a fresh round of talks just before midnight on March 31 included several main issues — uranium enrichment, where stockpiles of enriched uranium should be stored, limits on Iran’s nuclear research and development, and the timing and scope of sanctions.
About two hours after the late night talks resumed, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif emerged from the negotiations early on April 1 and told reporters that there had been “good progress.”
Zarif also said that he hoped for a “conclusion” on a framework political accord later on April 1.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, meanwhile, left the negotiations early on April 1, saying that he would return when it was “useful” and when he was needed.
In Washington, the White House announced that President Barack Obama held a video conference late on March 31 (Washington time) with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other members of his national security team, including Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The White House said that the video conference provided Obama with an update on the status of the negotiations in Switzerland.
The negotiations were extended into the early morning hours of April 1 after negotiators decided to ignore a self-imposed midnight deadline to reach the outline of a political agreement that would allow the talks to enter a new phase.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the extension was justified although “several difficult issues” still needed to be resolved.
Iran Nuclear Talks Timeline: How We Got Here
The United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany have been seeking verifiable curbs on Iran’s nuclear program that ensure Tehran is not able to develop an atomic weapons capability.
Iran, which denies it is trying to build nuclear weapons, wants crippling economic sanctions to be lifted.
A member of the Iranian negotiating team, Hamid Baidinejad, said late on March 31 that Tehran was ready to keep talking “as long as necessary” to agree the outlines of a deal.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and TASS