Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, has said that Tehran and the 5+1 Powers will begin talks next week on implementation of the interim nuclear deal reached in Geneva on November 24.
“Foreign Ministry directors general from Iran and the P5+1 will hold a meeting next week to review the details of implementing the agreement,” Araqchi announced on Saturday.
Under the deal, Iran is suspending its enrichment of 20% uranium, converting most of the stock to fuel plates or diluting it to 5%, in return for the lifting of some sanctions and release of billions of dollars in Iranian assets.
Araqchi indicated that those measures had not yet begun, “Under the agreement we reached in Geneva, both sides need a few weeks to make preparations for the implementation of Phase One.”
He said the European Union and the US need time “to change the rules regarding the sanctions”, while Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency need time to work out the framework for enhanced inspections of Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
The announcement appears to contradict a statement by senior Presidential advisor Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht on Monday that the US had already unfrozen $8 billion of Iran’s foreign holdings.
Araqchi said the interim deal would be implemented by late December 2013 or early January 2014.
Debt Talks to Pave Way for Return of Western Oil Companies to Iran?
Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi has indicated that talks have already begun with European oil firms in preparation for their return to Iran.
Majedi announced on Saturday, “We are negotiating with [Royal Dutch] Shell and some other European companies and countries on the settlement of their overdue crude payments to Iran, which will soon bear results and this problem will be resolved.”
Shell, Italy’s Eni, and other firms are owed billions by Iran, which says the payments have been held up by international sanctions.
Last week, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told London’s Financial Times of his desire for the Western companies to resume investments in Iran’s oil and gas fields, although he said this could not be agreed before a comprehensive nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions.
Deputy Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh reiterated on Wednesday, “Giant international firms are perceived to return to Iran’s oil and gas industries upon the complete removal of sanctions. Certainly, the annulment of sanctions will facilitate and accelerate exports operations and supply of Iranian oil to the global market.”
Revolutionary Guards: Saudi Arabia & Israel Designing Cyber-Attack “More Destructive Than Stuxnet”
Fars News, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, has accused Saudi Arabia and Israel of “strenuous attempts” to launch a new cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear program.
The outlet claimed the two powers were seeking “a computer worm more destructive than the Stuxnet malware”, used in an assault on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in 2010.
“Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Bardo sent their representatives to a meeting in Vienna on November 24 to increase the two sides’ cooperation in intelligence and sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear program,” Fars wrote from “an informed source close to the Saudi secret service”.
Citing last week’s interim deal, Fars claims, “Upset about Washington’s new rapprochement policy towards Iran, Bandar has now resorted to Israel to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.”
Israel has been widely linked, alongside the US, to the Stuxnet link. This is the first time that the Saudis have been accused of involvement in the cyber-warfare.
The article is a continuation of Fars’ attacks on Prince Bandar as the mastermind of the foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict. It claims that Bandar met Israel’s Bardo in Jordan to discuss operations, drawing the ire of Crown Prince Salman.
By EA WorldView
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