With a midnight deadline looming, Iran and the six nations it's conferring with in Switzerland have reached a deal—to continue talks for a deal on Tehran's hotly contested nuke program. The nations are expected to release a joint statement today announcing they'll enter a "new phase" of negotiations that will end with a full-fledged agreement by the end of June, according to two unnamed officials, per the AP. While headway had been made, key sticking points mean the language is being revised to say today's talks will end in an "understanding," with "technical" issues to be resolved in coming months, the AP notes. What's going on:
- Iran wants all UN sanctions lifted immediately; the six-country bloc is willing to make other concessions—including nixing banking limitations and getting rid of the EU oil embargo—but wants some sanctions in place until Iran makes good on its promises. That looks unlikely, with supreme leader Ali Khamenei posting yesterday, "Sanctions must be lifted in one go, not as a result of future Iranian actions," per the Guardian.
- Although Iran has said it will acquiesce to restrictions on its centrifuge development over the next decade, beyond that is fair game. The other countries at the negotiating table want to cut down Iran's "breakout time" (the time it would take to construct a bomb) by adding five more years onto the 10-year moratorium. Iran argues that would keep the country under the thumb of other nations' technology, the Guardian notes.
- The question of Iran's uranium stash remains on the table, with Tehran's main negotiator saying Iran has no intention of shipping its fuel out, and the US State Department conceding that there's still a lot of back and forth on this issue. "The bottom line is that we don't have agreement with the Iranians on the stockpile issue," a State rep said yesterday, per the New York Times.
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