As March 31 deadline looms, Iran says nuclear deal 'doable' despite issues

Ministers from Iran, P5+1 meet again to end impasse in negotiations less than 2 days before deadline to reach framework accord on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

March 30, 2015 11:25
2 minute read.
iran talks switzerland

Officials in talks on Iran's nuclear program at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, March 30, 2015 . (photo credit: REUTERS)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - The foreign ministers of Iran and six world powers met on Monday in a final push for a preliminary accord less than two days before their deadline to outline a deal to end Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West.

As the crunch talks resumed, Iran's lead negotiation said an accord was "doable," however a number of issues still remain unresolved.

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"Getting to an accord is doable. Solutions have been found for numerous questions. We are still working on two or three issues... The talks are in their final phase and are very difficult," AFP quoted Abbas Araqchi as telling reporters in Switzerland on Sunday.

Araqchi stressed that Tehran had no intention of abiding by one of the key  P5+1 demands to export Iran's stockpile of nuclear material, as he stated that his country's nuclear program does not encompass stocks of enriched uranium. 

"The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program and we do not intend sending them abroad... There is no question of sending the stocks abroad," AFP quoted him as saying.

For days Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have been holding marathon negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations, but officials cautioned that attempts to reach a framework accord could yet fall apart.

In addition to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Russia's Sergei Lavrov and China's Wang Yi gathered at a 19th-century hotel overlooking Lake Geneva to try to end the deadlock in the talks.

The six powers want more than a 10-year suspension of Iran's most sensitive nuclear work. Tehran, which denies it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, demands in exchange for limits on its atomic activities a swift end to international sanctions that are crippling its economy.

While some issues being discussed in the negotiations have been resolved, there are several differences on which the two sides have been unable to reach agreement. Both Iran and the six have floated compromise proposals in an attempt to make an accord possible.

One sticking point concerns Iran's demand to continue with research into newer generations of advanced centrifuges that can purify uranium faster and in greater quantities than the ones it currently operates for use in nuclear power plants or, if very highly enriched, in weapons.

Another question involves the speed of removing United Nations sanctions on Iran. A senior U.S. official said on Sunday there were other unresolved issues, but expected those would fall into place if the big sticking points could be worked out.

Even if Iran and the six powers reach an agreement by their end-March deadline, officials close to the talks say it could still fall apart when the two sides attempt to agree on all the technical details for a comprehensive accord by June 30.

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