Iran’s plan to cap some of the country’s atomic activities in exchange for selective relief from crippling economic sanctions has been accepted by six world powers, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator said Thursday.
After nearly a decade of deadlock, Iran seems more amenable to making concessions to the six countries. Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has indicated he could cut back on the nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.
Despite the seemingly calmer political backdrop, issues remain. Iranian hard-liners, for example, want significant sanctions reductions in exchange for scaling back enrichment, while some U.S. lawmakers want the enrichment to stop altogether in exchange for loosening the sanctions. Officials from two of the delegations said the sanctions relief on offer at this meeting will be limited and is unlikely to affect the core sanctions on Iran’s oil and finance sectors unless Tehran makes sweeping concessions, which is thought to be unlikely.
One negotiating point is expected to center on Iran’s production of uranium enriched to 20 percent – a level that is only a technical step short of weapons grade material. Iranian officials have hinted they are ready to discuss Western demands both for a production stop and of turning stockpiles into a form that is difficult to use for nuclear arms.
Though that would not, in itself, be sufficient to ease oil and finance sanctions, diplomats have previously said initial sanctions rollbacks could free Iranian funds in overseas accounts, and allow trade in gold and petrochemicals.