Iran daily: Tehran — “There will be gaps in draft of nuclear agreement”

Pulling back from optimistic statements of recent days, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator has said that there will be gaps in any draft of a comprehensive agreement from current talks in New York.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Saturday that the gaps cannot be filled without further decisions between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia).

“It will be a tough task. This first draft will be full of disputed issues and will include parentheses and brackets, and decisions should be made about them in the future,” the Minister said. He estimated that the process will take about two months, placing completion right at the June 30 deadline for a resolution.

Araqchi and Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-e Ravanchi had 24 hours of talks with the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief, Helga Schmid, on Thursday and Friday. He said that the drafting will continue in New York until Tuesday, then resume in Europe.

The Deputy Foreign Minister repeated that Iran’s priority was clarification on the timing of sanctions removal in return for Tehran’s limits on its nuclear facilities and production of enriched uranium.

The US said, following agreement of a nuclear framework on April 2, that removal or suspension will be linked to International Atomic Energy Agency verification of Iranian compliance. Iran’s senior officials, including the Supreme Leader, insisted the removal must be immediate upon signature of the comprehensive agreement.

In the past 10 days, both sides have issued public statements moving towards a compromise. President Obama indicated that most of the UN, European Union, and US sanctions could be lifted or suspended upon signature, provided that they could be re-imposed if Iran was found in violation of the terms. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that verification — and thus removal — could come “within a few days.

By EA WorldView