Iran negotiator says nuclear deal ‘doable’

Iran’s lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi says a nuclear deal is ‘doable’ but there are ‘two or three’ issues left to resolve

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A nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is “doable” with “two or three” issues left to resolve, Tehran’s lead negotiator said in crunch talks in Switzerland.

“Getting to an accord is doable. Solutions have been found for numerous questions. We are still working on two or three issues... The talks are in their final phase and are very difficult,” Abbas Araqchi told reporters in Lausanne.

He also said Iran sending abroad its stocks of nuclear material, a key demand of world powers in talks in Switzerland, was unacceptable.

“The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program and we do not intend sending them abroad... There is no question of sending the stocks abroad,” he added.

Earlier, a senior Iranian negotiator there was no agreement yet with global powers on Iran’s nuclear program, telling AFP outstanding issues had still to be dealt with.

“No deal has been reached, and the remaining issues have to be resolved,” the Iranian official said. Several Western diplomats have told AFP there is tentative agreement on some key parts of the emerging deal, but warned it was far from concluded.

Meanwhile, the White House challenged Iranian negotiators on Sunday to “live up to their rhetoric” and strike a nuclear deal with world powers before a March 31 deadline expires.

Iran and six world powers have reached tentative agreement on key parts of a deal sharply curtailing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Western diplomats said in Lausanne, where negotiators are racing to nail down an accord by midnight Tuesday.

“We’ve been negotiating for more than a year and ultimately it’s time for the Iranians to send a clear signal to the international community about whether or not they are willing to make the serious commitments required,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told ABC’s “This Week.”

The Iranians must “basically live up to their rhetoric, that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. So if they can make those commitments, they should be able to do that by the end of March,” he said.

Separately, House Speaker John Boehner promised to move “very quickly” to hit Iran with fresh sanctions if a nuclear deal collapses.

“Very quickly. Listen, the sanctions were working,” Boehner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“They would have never come to the table and, frankly, we should have kept the sanctions in place so that we could have gotten to a real agreement. And the sanctions are going to come and they're going to come quick.”

Boehner added that he had “serious doubts” about the ongoing talks in Switzerland.

“I’ve had serious doubts whether there could be an agreement and I still have serious doubts,” he said.

UK: Iran deal ‘can be done’

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said late Sunday he believed a nuclear deal with Iran could be reached, but insisted it must put an atomic bomb “beyond reach.”

“We are here because we believe a deal can be done,” Hammond told reporters waiting in the rain outside a Lausanne hotel as he became the last of the foreign ministers to arrive for talks with world powers.

“It’s in everyone’s interests that a deal does get done. But it has to be a deal which puts the bomb beyond Iran’s reach,” he said.

“There can’t be any compromise about that,” Hammond insisted.