(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, was quoted by official state media on Wednesday as saying that his government has moved closer to an agreement with Western powers over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
“In certain cases there were a lot of gaps and differences of opinion, but the differences have narrowed at the moment,” Rouhani told Iranian reporters on Tuesday.
"Fortunately, the trend [of Iran's nuclear issue] is proceeding within the framework set by" Iran, he said.
The president's remarks seem to confirm an Army Radio report from Tuesday indicating that the P5+1 discussions are advancing toward an agreement.
European diplomats have told Israeli officials in recent days that the United States and Iran are moving closer to an agreement that would allow the Islamic Republic to keep a large number of centrifuges in return for guaranteeing regional stability, Army Radio reported.
According to EU officials, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have discussed increasing the number of centrifuges which Iran would be permitted to keep. In exchange, the Iranians would undertake an obligation to bring their influence to bear in order to ensure quiet in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
European diplomats are quoted by Israeli officials as saying that the US in recent weeks has made significant concessions in its talks with Iran, so much so that it is willing to permit Tehran to operate 6,500 centrifuges while lifting sanctions that have hurt its economy this past decade.
The Europeans have told the Israelis that these concessions were offered in exchange for Iranian promises to maintain regional stability. According to Army Radio, the EU is opposed to the proposed linkage between the nuclear issue and other geopolitical matters. In fact, the Europeans suspect that Washington is operating behind Brussels’ back and that Kerry has not bothered to keep them in the loop in his talks with Zarif.