The two sides are negotiating for a comprehensive nuclear agreement, following November’s interim deal. They opened the comprehensive discussions last month in Vienna, and experts held technical talks in early March.
Under the six-month interim deal, which came into force on January 20, Iran is suspending its enrichment of uranium to 20% and diluting existing stock or converting it into fuel plates which cannot be used in a military program. The US and the European Union have begun lifting some sanctions, although most remain in place pending a comprehensive agreement.
The comprehensive deal will also seek agreement on the status of Iran’s nuclear facilities, such as the Fordoo enrichment plant and the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor, and on a system of supervision and inspections.
The Iranian Government has the support of the Supreme Leader for the talks; however, it is under pressure from hardliners opposed both to negotiation with the Americans and to President Rouhani’s declared intentions for cultural “openness”.
That tension spilled over on Monday night, when Zarif cancelled a working dinner with the European Union’s Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers.
Zarif was protesting Ashton’s meeting in Tehran last week with women’s right activists, an event which has fed hardline denunciations of Western support for “sedition”.
However, a more positive signal came from a discussion between the deputies to Zarif and Ashton. Abbas Araqchi and Helga Schmid agreed on an agenda for today’s discussions, according to Iranian State media.
Detained Opposition Leaders Mousavi & Rahnavard Meet Relatives of Political Prisoners
Detained opposition leaders Zahra Rahnavard and Mir Hossein Mousavi have unexpectedly met a group of teachers and families of political prisoners.
Rahnavard and her husband Mousavi, the main challenger in the disputed 2009 Presidential election, were allowed to meet Rahnavard’s aging mother on Sunday. The event coincided with the gathering of the teachers and families.
Security officers reporteldy tried to restrict the meeting, but the visitors finally managed to see Rahnavard and Mousavi, held under strict house arrest since February 2011.
UN Mediator Brahimi and Foreign Minister Zarif Discuss Syria
The United Nations mediator on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday in Tehran.
No details were given of the discussion, on the second day of Brahimi’s visit, but Zarif put out Iran’s PR line of support for the Syrian regime’s Presidential election in the spring.
Zarif said, according to State media, that “it is necessary to provide a condition in which all Syrian people from all walks to be involved in the Presidential election to determine their own political destiny”.
The Foreign Minister also implicitly chided the UN, saying it should play an independent role in Syria without bowing to “pressure” from certain countries.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran presented a four-article plan to Brahimi for resolution of the crisis: “The details of the plan have not been publicly announced but we are following up on it through negotiations and diplomatic consultations.”
The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.