Envoys on Wednesday said Iranian negotiators this week voiced a tentative openness to dialing back their nation’s disputed uranium refinement activities in return for curbs on international financial penalties, Reuters reported.
Still, Western government insiders said it was unclear if the Persian Gulf power would take steps necessary to dispel fears that it is pursuing a nuclear-bomb capability. Few specifics have surfaced publicly on an atomic compromise proposal put forward by Tehran at a two-day multilateral meeting completed in Geneva on Wednesday.
One Western envoy said new plans are in place for a follow-up Nov. 7-8 meeting between Iranian diplomats and counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany — the so-called “P-5+1.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Facebook that before the next round of talks in November the six other negotiating powers will have “a chance to acquire the necessary readiness regarding the details of Iran’s plans and the steps that they must take,” the New York Times reported.
In a joint statement, Zarif and Ashton said Iran’s proposal “is being carefully considered by the [P-5+1] as an important contribution.”
Abbas Araqchi, one of Zarif’s deputies, said Tehran proposed initially accepting certain uranium-enrichment restrictions within half a year in exchange for partial curbs on punitive economic measures, the London Guardian reported on Wednesday. Washington and its allies doubt Tehran’s longtime assertion that it only wants to enrich uranium to relatively low levels for use in power plants and research reactors.
A second phase would entail a number of undisclosed confidence-building measures. In a final step, Iran would accept more aggressive international auditing to help ensure it is not diverting nuclear material for military activities, while other countries would lift remaining penalties and allow Iranian uranium enrichment to continue within established boundaries.
Timing for various steps remains a potential snag for negotiators, according to Reuters. Western government officials have said economic penalties should remain in place until Tehran stops producing 20 percent-enriched uranium, which can quickly be converted to bomb fuel.
British Foreign Minister William Hague said: “We are not today in a position to make any changes in those sanctions. Sanctions must continue. Sanctions are important part of bringing Iran to the negotiating table.”
However, Obama administration insiders said Washington is willing to unfreeze certain Iranian foreign currency reserves in return for concrete steps by Tehran, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
At the U.S. Defense Department, officials on Monday said they want to sell Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates $10.8 billion in air-fired cruise missiles and other weapons, Bloomberg reported. Arms in the proposed packages are capable of hitting air defenses and radar sites in Iran and elsewhere, the news agency said.
- 1 Obamacare’s Exchanges Are Faltering—But What’s the Cure?
- 2 Preparing for the Worst, NRCC Presses GOP Members for Cash
- 3 The GOP Nod Will Go to Trump or Cruz, Unless the Establishment Sorts Itself Out
- 4 Senator Manchin: What My Daughter Did Should Be Illegal
- 5 Why Trump’s Immigration Switch Won’t Move the Needle
What We're Following See More »
A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute "found 72 percent of Americans now favor passing laws to protect lesbian, gay and transgender people from discrimination, including three-quarters of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans." A majority also opposes "bathroom bills," of the kind passed by North Carolina.
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.