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Deal may be Agreed with Iran this Week

Reuters writes that on Friday a senior US official, speaking to reporters, admitted that a deal with Iran may well be agreed when negotiators meet again on the 20th of November in Geneva.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with Jacad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, on the 20th of November in Geneva, with the rest of the P5+1 group (consisting of the UK, US, China, France, Germany and Russia) joining the discussions later in the day. It tis thought that the talks will continue until the 22nd of November, and seek to secure the support of all parties for an interim deal that will help pave the way for a permanent deal with Iran.

The official said that “for the first time in nearly a decade we are getting close to a first-step ... that would stop the Iranian nuclear program from advancing and roll it back in key areas. I don't know if we will reach an agreement. I think it is quite possible that we can, but there are still tough issues to negotiate.”

Related article: When Iran Negotiations Aren’t About Iran

Last week’s negotiations in Geneva came to end without any deal in place, but all involved were hopeful that something would be agreed soon after good progress was made. Whilst talks seem to be progressing, President Barack Obama has urged congress not to impose any new sanctions against Iran. The official agreed, stating that new sanctions would not only threaten the negotiations but also risk relations with the five other major powers involved in the talks.

“The P5+1 believes these are serious negotiations. They have a chance to be successful. For us to slap on sanctions in the middle of it, they see as bad faith.”

US sanctions have hit Iran hard, crippling its economy and causing a contraction of over five percent over the last year, and causing its currency to fall by 60 percent against the dollar since 2011. Iran has about $100 billion in reserves, but most of that is held in overseas bank accounts to which the sanctions have prevented access for Tehran. It is thought that a deal may include some respite in sanctions allowing Tehran to access this capital and aid its stricken economy.

Related article: Iran’s Looming Energy Crisis

A recent UN inspection report released earlier in the month states that Iran has stopped expanding its uranium enrichment capacity, but as the official said, “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.”

One of the major obstacles to a deal is that Iran believes that it has the right to enrich uranium on the basis that it will never be used to create weapons, but the US has said that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Iran has no such rights.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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