Time is running out as the deadline for Iran's nuclear talks approaches and countries scramble to reach a preliminary agreement that would end a decade-long standoff surrounding the country's nuclear program. Iran had agreed to stop its nuclear work during negotiations, and that could end if the talks fall apart by the self-imposed March 31 deadline. A couple critical details surrounding United Nations sanctions and whether Iran will give up its uranium stockpile have kept compromise at bay.
Representatives from Iran as well as six major world powers — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China — have been in discussions for days in Lausanne, Switzerland. The six allied countries want a 10-year suspension of Iran's most sensitive nuclear work, specifically those related to the development of atomic weapons, according to Reuters. Iran has long said it doesn't intend to develop capabilities for nuclear arms, and in exchange for limiting its nuclear program, Tehran wants to see U.N. sanctions, which have hurt its economy, quickly lifted. The timeline for how those restrictions would be eased has been a major component to negotiations.
But the biggest issue is whether Iran will give up its uranium stockpile. According to French news agency Agence France-Presse, a Western diplomat said Iran "more or less" agreed to limit the number of its centrifuges from 20,000 to 6,000 and to send most of its uranium overseas. In November, the country had also agreed to ship its uranium to Russia in order to de-weaponize it and convert it for commercial use.
But Iran's representative Abbas Araqchi on Sunday told reporters his country did not intend to send its uranium abroad. Officials told The New York Times that one option on the table is to let Iran blend its uranium into a more diluted form, which would make it more difficult to enrich for military use. Despite the intense discussions, Araqchi said the talks were still "doable."
The talks are in their final phase and are very difficult. We are optimistic, the chances of getting a deal are there. But this requires the other side taking the necessary decisions and demonstrating their political will.
Even if the countries come to an agreement before the March 31 deadline, that doesn't mean that negotiations were successful. The goal is to have a general deal in place by Tuesday night and then have the technical details figured out by June 30. But should the talks fail, Republicans are already promising swift new sanctions against Iran. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke to CNN on Sunday to express his doubt over the possibility of compromise on Iran's nuclear program.
I just don't understand why we would sign an agreement with a group of people who, in my opinion, have no intention of keeping their word.
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