Iran’s state-owned Press TV is reporting that Tehran is demanding that all sanctions be lifted to proceed with a nuclear agreement.
“Our principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once,” Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, reportedly told the network.
Negotiators, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, met in Switzerland this week for the latest round of talks. They tentatively agreed to meet again on March 15, the Ides of March.
Araqchi further stressed that insisting no sanctions remain in place is a “very important aspect” of the talks.
Meeting with the Saudi foreign minister in Riyadh today, Kerry said he’s “seeking to show that Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful and that we can block all of the pathways necessary to acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon and then to be able to move towards the production of that weapon.”
“To date, we have made progress, but there do remain serious gaps, and those need to be resolved. We still don’t know whether we’ll get there,” he said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom is “worried about atomic energy and atomic bomb.”
“But we’re equally concerned about the nature of action and hegemonistic tendencies that Iran has in the region. And these elements are the elements of instability in the region. We see Iran involved in Syria and Lebanon and Yemen and Iraq and God knows where. This must stop if Iran is to be part of the solution of the region and not part of the problem,” al-Faisal said.
Kerry stressed again the administration’s assertion that a nuke deal should be agreed to before somehow acting against Iran’s support of terrorism.
Today is the 45th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Kerry issued a statement noting that “our common security would be profoundly affected if additional countries crossed the nuclear threshold.”
“That is why President Obama and I have committed so much time and attention to seeking an agreement that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it will formally commit to it in perpetuity as a signatory to the NPT, and through a science-based, verifiable agreement with the P5+1 member nations and their partners,” Kerry said.
“We are also working with the international community to achieve the DPRK’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and its return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.”
A report last week warned that North Korea could have as many as 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.
The U.S. mission to International Organizations in Vienna said in a statement Wednesday that North Korea “continues to operate as a black hole in the global nonproliferation regime – heedless of all its obligations and undermining virtually all aspects of the regime.”
“The expansion of its uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, and the clear likelihood of additional unidentified facilities, raise the prospect of an additional route to weapons-usable fissile material production. These activities are clear violations of multiple UN resolutions and must cease immediately. As highlighted repeatedly by the General Conference, these activities also underscore the importance of a complete understanding of the DPRK’s entire nuclear program,” the statement delivered by Ambassador Laura Kennedy at the IAEA Board of Governors Meeting continued.
“…Unfortunately, Pyongyang has consistently rebuffed our offers of dialogue and instead has responded with a series of provocations.”