‘U.S. Negotiating Team Mainly There to Speak on Iran’s Behalf’
Iran and six major powers were exploring possible compromises to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday, but officials cautioned they were unable to move on several sticking points.
The news came as Israel said the details of a possible agreement emerging from talks in Lausanne, Switzerland were worse than it feared.
In a significant development in talks aimed at securing a preliminary nuclear deal, several officials told Reuters Tehran had indicated a willingness to accept fewer than 6,000 nuclear centrifuges and to send most of its enriched uranium stockpiles for storage in Russia.
Western powers, on the other hand, were considering the idea of allowing Iran to conduct limited, closely-monitored enrichment-related work for medical purposes at an underground facility called Fordow, the officials added on condition of anonymity.
Iran had originally insisted on keeping in operation the nearly 10,000 centrifuges it currently uses, but said in November that Washington indicated it could accept around 6,000. Iranian officials say they had been pushing for 6,500-7,000.
The officials said all parts of an emerging nuclear deal were interrelated.
“Everything could still fall apart,” a Western official told Reuters, adding that the talks could drag on to Tuesday, the self-imposed deadline for a framework agreement.
According to The Telegraph, a pro-Rouhani Iranian journalist covering the P5 + 1 talks has sought asylum in Switzerland following frustration that he “could only write what he is told”:
A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.
Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).
He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told.
“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he told Irane Farda television. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.
“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.” Mr Mottaghi was a journalist and commentator who went on to use social media successfully to promote Mr Rouhani to a youthful audience that overwhelmingly elected him to power.
President Obama has recently been criticized for appearing to place his legacy above national security. According to The Telegraph, Mottaghi, the U. S. negotiators are pushing hard for a deal and are, in his estimation, speaking on Iran’s behalf.
In his television interview, Mr Mottaghi also gave succour to western critics of the proposed nuclear deal, which has seen the White House pursue a more conciliatory line with Tehran than some of America’s European allies in the negotiating team, comprising the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany.
“The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” he said.
Ruptly, a German news agency, reports that the “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was positive about the P5+1 international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, held in Lausanne, Saturday, stating that those involved were coming closer to an agreement on the topic”:
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