|Reuters gives overview of sticking points in Iran nuclear talks||
TEHRAN – In an article published on July 3, Reuters gave a brief overview of the main sticking points that Iran and the major powers need to overcome in their ongoing talks in Vienna in order to clinch a comprehensive nuclear deal to end the long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Following are excerpts of the article:
This lies at the heart of the standoff and is seen as the hardest issue to resolve. Iran insists it needs to expand its capacity to refine uranium to fuel a planned network of atomic energy plants while the powers say Tehran must sharply reduce it to deny it any ability to quickly produce a nuclear bomb.
Iran now has more than 19,000 installed enrichment centrifuges, mostly old-generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium’s fissile isotope U-235.
The powers want the number cut to no more than a few thousand; Iran is lobbying for tens of thousands.
Centrifuge research and development
Iran says it will not cede its “right” to install advanced machinery to refine uranium. The West wants strict limits on its development of new-generation centrifuges as they could potentially enable a much swifter accumulation of fissile material and shorten the time needed for any nuclear weapons “break-out”.
In 2013, Iran installed around a thousand IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz, but has not yet started them up. It is also testing other newer models at a research and development facility.
With its potential to yield plutonium - which like highly-enriched uranium can fuel nuclear weapons - the West would ideally want the planned Arak heavy-water research reactor scrapped or converted to a … light-water plant. Iran says the reactor would only produce radioisotopes for medicine and agriculture, and has ruled out closing it down.
A compromise, diplomats and analysts say, would see the plant reconfigured to significantly reduce its potential annual plutonium-producing capacity to well below the roughly 5 kg that is needed for one bomb.
UN nuclear investigation
Western officials say Iran must address a … UN nuclear agency investigation into (allegations) that it has worked on designing a nuclear warhead, a charge it denies, as part of any wider nuclear agreement with the powers. Iran has offered to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to clear up the allegations.
As the IAEA inquiry will take many months - if not years - to complete, Western officials and experts suggest some sanctions-easing should be tied to Iran cooperating with the Vienna-based UN watchdog.
The timetable and scope of lifting UN and separate Western sanctions imposed on Iran over the last eight years is one of the most complex and controversial issues to resolve.
Iran wants … measures that have … damaged its … economy - gradually tightened since the first UN Security Council resolution in 2006 - lifted as soon as possible, although it appears to have accepted that any relaxation of the regime could only unfold in a phased manner as Tehran fulfils its part of any nuclear agreement.
While U.S. President Barack Obama can suspend some sanctions without the consent of the U.S. Congress, lawmakers skeptical of his diplomacy with the Islamic Republic could complicate the implementation of any deal by refusing the lifting of others.
Duration of deal
(The duration of deal is) another thorny issue where positions remain far apart. One official from the six powers said the Western side wants the duration of any agreement to be two decades. Tehran has said it would be willing to accept five years before being treated as any other signatory to the 189-nation nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which enshrines the right for (signatories) to pursue nuclear energy for civilian applications.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader