Diplomatic talks with Iran continued for a fifth day in Lausanne, Switzerland. Lifting sanctions is a main obstacle to securing a framework agreement on Iranian disputed nuclear program by March 31, five European and U.S. diplomats said. The European and U.S. approach focuses on first suspending and then permanently removing sanctions over the lifetime of a deal. The Western powers negotiating with Iran have proposed lifting UN sanctions in four to six years, according to the officials.
Iran wants sanctions to be lifted once it agrees to place curbs on its nuclear activities. The UN Security Council, the U.S. Treasury Department and the European Union have all levied economic sanctions on the country over its nuclear program. Oil sanctions could be lifted within months of an agreement if Iran agrees on a deal that limits its nuclear capacity and allows for broader international verification, one European diplomat said.
“An agreement with Iran — like the opening to China many years ago — offers the possibility of avoiding another costly conflict, while beginning the process of reintegrating the revolutionary nation of Iran back into the community of responsible states,” said Gary Sick, a former U.S. National Security Council member who advised three presidents.
Failure would not only deny President Barack Obama and others a major foreign policy success but also raise the prospect that the president or a successor would turn to force to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. The stakes are also high for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, elected as a reformer to fix the economy, which has buckled under the sanctions.
Sunday’s talks began with Kerry meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. They were joined by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s top scientist in charge of its nuclear program. A negotiated accord — even if only a political framework – – could be a major stepping stone to ending Iran’s isolation and rebuilding its global trade ties.