(photo credit: Reuters)
The US needs to test the seriousness of the Iranian regime’s intentions before
signing a permanent deal on its nuclear program, US Ambassador to the UN
Samantha Power said Friday.
“We have to test this regime,” she said on
CBS’s This Morning. “There is so much mistrust that we bring to the negotiations
after generations of suspicion, and that cuts both ways.”
She argued an
interim deal would allow world powers not only to test Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani’s intentions, but also stop Tehran from taking advantage of the lengthy
negotiations to continue enriching uranium
Power noted that a quarterly
report by the International Atomic Energy Agency published on Thursday showed
that between August 20 and November 5, Iran has halted the previously rapid
expansion of its uranium-enrichment capacity, and that no further major
components had been added to a potential plutonium- producing reactor in Arak
However, the report also noted that the marked slowdown in
the growth of Iranian nuclear activity is mostly due to maintenance
Furthermore, Iran has since resumed conversion.
reiterated comments made by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State
John Kerry, saying Washington offers Iran “temporary, modest, reversible,
limited relief” in sanctions, in return for the freezing of the Iranian nuclear
program, and Tehran diluting some of the high-enriched uranium they already
She added that world powers were seeking “a much more aggressive
inspection and verification regime” on Tehran’s atom program.
responded to claims made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli
officials that the deal being offered in Geneva is “a very, very bad
“The sign that this is not a good deal for Iran is the fact they
haven’t taken the deal that’s on the table right now,” she said.
reasserted US commitment to Israel, saying both countries share the same goal –
halting Iran’s nuclear program – and that the United States will continue
consulting with Israel on the issue.
Iran and the P5+1 countries are
scheduled to meet again in Geneva later this month.
A US official said on
Friday that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign
Minister Javad Zarif were to meet on November 20 and a wider group – including
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – would meet
Iranian officials there on the following two days.
While the US is
hopeful a deal could be reached, the official, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, cautioned that “there are still tough issues to
The US official also told reporters that estimates of
direct sanctions relief being offered – which have ranged from $15 billion to
$50b. – were “wildly exaggerated.”
“It is way south of all of that and
quite frankly it will be dwarfed by the restrictions that are still in place,”
the official said.
The official said imposing further sanctions
threatened the good faith effort of negotiations not with Iran but also among
the six UN powers.
“The P5+1 believes these are serious negotiations.
They have a chance to be successful,” the official said. “For us to slap on
sanctions in the middle of it they see as bad faith.”
Oil prices slipped
lower on Friday on the reports that Western powers may reach a
Commenting on the IAEA report, the official said it was “a good
thing” but did not resolve fundamental questions and concerns about Tehran’s
“We appreciate the step but the reason for our
negotiation is to get at certainty that Iran can’t have a nuclear weapon and we
are a long way from that,” the official added.
Western diplomats said one
of the sticking points during talks was Iran’s argument that it retains the
“right” to enrich uranium. The United States argues Iran does not intrinsically
have that right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
dismissed suggestions that the issue could be a deal breaker.
there is a way to navigate that... we each understand where each other is and
what is possible, and what is not,” the official added.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.