UPDATE 0815 GMT: High-level Iranian officials mobilized immediately to promote the Supreme Leader’s statement that a nuclear deal must be accomplished in a one-stage final settlement, rather than the issuance of General Principles in March and a comprehensive resolution by July 1.
The officials linked the demand to Iran’s insistence on a removal within months of all major financial and restrictions.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament’s National Security Commission, said, “A two-phase agreement which envisages a decision on the removal of sanctions to a later date or includes lifting of some embargos will be unacceptable; all sanctions, including those of the UN Security Council, the UN, the US Congress, and the EU [European Union] should be removed all at once.”
He pointed to today’s statements of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on a nuclear agreement with the West, and said, “Because the negotiations have reached a sensitive stage, the leader’s remarks about the negotiations will help the Iranian negotiators in their ongoing talks.”
The Supreme Leader made a notable intervention on Sunday in Iran’s nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers, telling the US and its partners to accept the Iranian deal on the table.
Speaking to Air Force commanders, Ayatollah Khamenei urged a resolution of the outstanding issues, pointing to compromise while claiming a firm Iranian line: “I would go along with any agreement that could be made. Of course, I am not for a bad deal. No agreement is better than an agreement which runs contrary to our nation’s interests.”
Significantly, given a hard-line challenge to President Rouhani inside the Islamic Republic, the Supreme Leader continued to back Rouhani and Iran’s negotiators: “The respected president mentioned something good, which is, ‘Negotiations are all about trying to reach a common stand’. This means that one side would not end up getting all it wants.”
The Supreme Leader made clear that he wants a final settlement soon, in one last step rather than in stages. He appeared to hit back at a reported proposal for an “Understanding of General Principles” by March 24, with completion of the agreement by a July 1 deadline.
During talks it’s not proper to reach a deal on “General Principles” & postpone details; it’ll lead to opportunistic behavior by Westerners.
Khamenei did not offer any details on the deal on the table, discussed last weekend by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in talks in Munich with high-level officials of the 5+1 Powers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
However, the Supreme Leader did draw one red line: all sanctions must be lifted “in the real meaning of the word”, he said.
Iran has reportedly demanded that the US and Europe remove sanctions on its oil and banking sectors within six months, while the US continues to speak of “years” for the process.
As well as the sanctions, Iran and the 5+1 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) continue the level and number of Iran’s centrifuges for uranium enrichment and the duration of an agreement.
The Supreme Leader’s line on sanctions and his demand for a final agreement in the near-future both pointed to concerns that Iran’s economy will suffer further if talks are drawn out.
Officially, Ayatollah Khamenei and the Rouhani Government continue to proclaim that Iran’s “Resistance Economy” can ensure survival, even without a settlement. However, senior officials close to Rouhani leaked to Reuters last week that failure will cause more damage to Iran’s troubled economy and bring the President’s political demise.
In Munich, neither Zarif nor Kerry gave details of the talks, following their second meeting in three days. However, both did announce that, if an agreement is not reached, there will be no extension of the discussions — and interim nuclear arrangements — beyond July 1.
Last year, the two sides twice extended the negotiations when deadlines were missed, maintaining the interim deal reached in November 2013.
The Iranian Foreign Minister said Sunday:
This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity. It may not be repeated.
I do not think another extension is in the interest of anyone, as I do not believe this extension was either necessary or useful.
Zarif also echoed the Supreme Leader’s message on sanctions, saying they “have to go”.
By EA WorldView