Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - Page 6 News List

‘Haggling’ threatens Iran deal: Rouhani

‘GREAT VICTORY’:Iran’s president said the negotiations were an accomplishment for the Muslim nation, adding that Iranian technological secrets would be protected

AFP, TEHRAN

Iran’s president on Saturday warned that haggling by world powers could jeopardize the June 30 deadline for a nuclear agreement, admitting many differences remain on the details of the potentially historic deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has placed his credibility on ending more than a decade of international concern that the Muslim republic is developing a nuclear bomb, also acknowledged sanctions would not be lifted immediately under the accord.

He made the remarks in Tehran a day after Russia’s senior negotiator spoke of a “very worrying” slowdown in painstaking diplomacy that has lasted 21 months.

With the finish line in sight, Rouhani, speaking at a news conference marking two years since his unexpected election victory, accused the other side of agreeing to terms in one meeting only to try and improve on them during later discussions.

“They start to haggle,” he said, without naming any of the six global powers in the talks.

“If the other party respects the agreed framework and does not add other demands, the differences can be resolved, but if they choose the path of haggling then it can prolong the negotiations,” he added.

Iran and the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany — agreed to the outlines of the nuclear deal on April 2 after intensive talks went past a March 31 deadline.

On Friday in Washington, US Department of State spokesman Jeffrey Rathke admitted the process was proving “complicated,” but the US believes a deal can still be reached by the end of this month.

A day earlier, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius — seen as a hawk in the negotiations — said tighter UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, under an additional protocol, were not yet sewn up.

Iranian officials have insisted there can be no inspections of military sites and Rouhani appeared to muddy the waters further.

“Iran will not allow its secrets to be disclosed or put in the hands of others,” he said, noting there can be “some access,” but not detailing which sites he was referring to.

“We have secrets in technology. Our secrets will be protected,” he added.

With deputy foreign ministers and technical experts currently meeting in Vienna in the run-up to the final talks, Russia’s senior negotiator on Friday spoke of slow progress.

“There is very little time before the deadline and we urgently need to enter the final stage,” Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov said.

Alluding to those concerns, Rouhani said that despite “many differences” under the deal, which aims to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful, he remained “hopeful” of an agreement.

The proposed accord would mothball large parts of Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for a lifting of extensive sanctions that have severely damaged its economy.

However, the process of implementing each side’s obligations under a complex agreement lasting at least a decade remains unsettled.

Iranian lawmakers and hardliners maintain that sanctions must be lifted when the deal is signed, despite most experts agreeing that it would take significant time to do so.

“We are currently discussing it,” Rouhani said, when asked about the timing of sanctions being removed, conceding that “weeks or even months will pass” between signing and implementing the deal.

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