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“Any agreement which does not satisfy Iran and does not recognise Iran’s (nuclear) rights and is not based on mutual respect, has no chance for success,” Foreign Minister Maohammad- Javad Zarif was quoted as saying.
Iran has made it clear through its negotiators that if the US and its allies want to see some compromise from Tehran, the first step would be to significantly cut back on the UN sanctions, which have steadily strengthened in recent years.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama warned that any additional sanctions would be counterproductive as his administration aggressively pursues a diplomatic course to break the decade-old impasse between Iran and a number of Western nations.
His remarks came as CNN and The New York Times published statements attributed to an anonymous “senior administration official” that Iran and the negotiating teams of the P5 + 1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) appear to have moved closer than at any time in the past 10 years.
The unnamed official did not provide details but said that a compromise deal was close, possibly as near as next weeks when the P5 + 1 talks with Iran resume in Geneva.
Talks between Iran and the P5 + 1 intensified after relations between Tehran and Washington appeared to have improved, albeit modestly. An opportunity for better relations presented itself, analysts say, following the election of Hassan Rouhani to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday that Iran may have significantly slowed down its nuclear programme citing no further development on a potential plutonium-producing reactor since August.
The slowdown has given Iran a stronger hand to negotiate an end to sanctions, which experts say had started to cripple Iran’s oil-based economy.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a deal had been close during Geneva talks last week but that not all members of the P5 + 1 would sign off on it.
France said it was not satisfied by a provisional deal and wanted firmer assurances that Iran would freeze all efforts toward developing a nuclear weapon.