Iran and a group of six world powers completed a deal on Sunday 12 Jan 2014 that will temporarily freeze much of Tehran’s nuclear program starting next Monday, Jan. 20, in exchange for limited relief from Western economic sanctions.
The main elements of the deal, which is to last for six months, were announced in November. But its implementation was delayed as negotiators worked out technical details.
Under the interim deal, Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, a level that is sufficient for energy production but not for a bomb.
The country’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, a step toward weapons-grade fuel, will be diluted or converted to oxide so that it cannot be readily prepared for military purposes.
Iran also agreed not to install any new centrifuges, start up any that were not already operating, or build new enrichment facilities. The agreement does not, however, require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a low level of 3.5 percent, or to dismantle any existing centrifuges.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi said that Iran would comply with the interim agreement by removing the connections between networks of centrifuges that have been used to enrich uranium to 20 percent, so that they can enrich only to 5 percent.
- On the topic of the Syria: U.S. and its partners are on the opposite side.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Paris for an international meeting on the civil war in Syria, also acknowledged that the next phase of the talks would be difficult.
The meeting of the so-called London 11, a group of nations that back the moderate Syrian opposition, underscored the enormous gulf that remains between Iran and the West.
The United States and its partners are on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Iran. As the United States has provided limited support to the opposition, Iran has gone much further, at considerable economic cost to itself, to help sustain President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power in Syria.
Syria is just one place where Iran has been active. Since the interim accord on Iran’s nuclear program was signed on Nov. 24, Iran has sent about 330 truckloads of arms and equipment to Syria through Iraq, according to American intelligence reports.
In a news conference Mr. Kerry said that he had raised the topic of the Syrian conflict with the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. For instance, he said, because of Iran’s refusal to accept the American view that the goal of a coming peace conference in Switzerland should be to organize a transitional Syrian government that does not include Mr. Assad, it will be impossible for Iran to participate in the conference.
- At Paris talks cementing a nuclear deal had been a much higher priority than trying to change Iran’s position on Syria.
- The coming Geneva II negotiation to reach a comprehensive agreement that addresses all of the international community’s concerns will be even more complex.
On Thursday Secretary of State John Kerry offered a public assurance that the Obama administration had not pulled back from its goal of establishing a transitional government that would not include President
“There is an American tendency to think that arms control and détente go together — that if you can solve the nuclear issue, you can also solve other points of contention,”
- U.N. envoy agrees that Iran should be invited; Kerry says Tehran must first embrace goals.
- U.S., Russia call for trust-building ahead of Syria talks.
Some 30 countries have been invited to Montreux for what may be a largely ceremonial opening day of the peace talks. Two days later, Syria’s government and opposition delegations will move to Geneva to continue the deliberations, mediated by a United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.
Diplomats and Middle East analysts say that if there are any breakthroughs, they will take place at the negotiations in Geneva.
- Iran is expected to release one public statement early Monday.
If Iran has accepted the Geneva terms, it would be a sharp turnaround, since it has long insisted that it will participate in talks only if there are no preconditions. Still, such a shift would not necessarily mean Tehran had accepted that President Assad must leave office.
The twelfth round of EU-US trade talks to take place in Brussels from 22 to Friday 26 February 2016.