Obama, Kerry Discuss Negotiations With Iran



Published on 14 January 2014


by Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

(WireNews+Co)

Washington, D.C.

John Kerry
John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry says the international community has taken “a critical, significant step” toward reaching a resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, the international community will provide Iran with limited and targeted relief from the most stringent economic sanctions it has imposed, Kerry said. The relief will be phased in to match Iran’s efforts to meet its commitments.

Beginning January 20, for the first time in almost a decade, Iran’s nuclear program will not be able to advance, and some of its program will be rolled back, Kerry said January 12. Iranian negotiators and representatives from six nations led by the European Union agreed to a six-month plan that will open the way to a more complete agreement to end concerns about Iran’s program, he added.

“Iran will voluntarily take immediate and important steps between now and January 20 to halt the progress of its nuclear program,” Kerry said in a prepared statement. The plan was agreed to initially during negotiations in Geneva in November 2013.

Iran has agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium to no more than 5 percent by not installing or starting up additional centrifuges or using next-generation centrifuges. The 5 percent enrichment level is considered the standard level for electric-power generation. Coupled with that commitment is a commitment to permit new and more frequent inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites by inspection teams from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that Iran is meeting its commitments.

Kerry said Iran will also continue to render its entire stockpile of 20 percent–enriched uranium unusable for further enrichment. He added that the international community will remain vigilant in the verification of Iran’s actions.

“Taken together, these and other steps will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” President Obama said in a separate statement.

Obama also said that “in return, over the next six months the United States and our P5+1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the European Union — will begin to implement modest relief so long as Iran fulfills its obligations and as we pursue a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear program.”

At issue is Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, which the international community has long believed was part of a program for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, though Iranian officials have claimed the enrichment processing has been for use in a medical-research reactor and for electric-energy generation.

As a consequence, the United Nations, the United States and the international community have imposed a series of political and economic sanctions against Iran.

“Unprecedented sanctions and tough diplomacy helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and I’m grateful to our partners in Congress who share our goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama said. Some members of Congress have in recent months proposed additional sanctions, but the administration has asked that no further legislative actions be taken until the current negotiations could be completed.

“The $4.2 billion in restricted Iranian assets that Iran will gain access to as part of the agreement will be released in regular installments throughout the six months,” Kerry said. But the next phase poses the greater challenge, Kerry said, and that involves reaching a final and comprehensive agreement that will resolve outstanding concerns by the international community about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

It has been the stated goal of the United States and its allies to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would threaten regional stability in the Middle East. But the United States has equally been adamant about negotiating a diplomatic resolution to the disagreement, Kerry said.

In September 2013, Obama welcomed efforts by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly to renew the six-nation talks and reach an accord on inspections by IAEA monitors.

The rapid meeting schedule in October and November that resumed after Obama and Rouhani spoke by telephone in September was an effort to ensure that the pace of the work proceeded quickly but cautiously, a senior U.S. official told journalists.

 


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Posted 2014-01-14 11:41:00