LATEST: 1st Vice President — “Unemployment at Critical Level”

For the second day in a row, Iran’s officials put out declarations of their advances towards a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers.

On Saturday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, set out Iranian compliance with November’s interim deal. Tehran was limiting enrichment of uranium to 5%, converting or diluting its 20% stock, and was ready to offer a re-design of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor.

Yesterday AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi explained:

Based on the Geneva agreement, we should dilute half of the 209-kg stockpile of our 20% enriched uranium and oxidize the other half. We have diluted 104.5kg of this stockpile a few days ago and turned it into 5% enriched uranium, and the remaining half is due to be oxidized and we have three months (more to do so).

Uranium which is converted to oxide powder cannot be further enriched for use in a militarized nuclear program.

The interim nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China) expires on July 20, by which time the two sides hope to have reached a comprehensive agreement.

High-level talks towards that agreement resume in Vienna in mid-May.

Last week, in recognition of the steps on uranium enrichment, the 5+1 Powers released another tranche of $450 million of frozen Iranian assets. Under November’s deal, a total of $4.5 billion is to be unfrozen by July.

1st Vice President: “Unemployment at Critical Level”

First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri said Sunday that the unemployment rate in Iran has reached a critical level.

Jahangiri blamed the Government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which left office in August, for widespread loans to small businesses, leading to about 800 trillion Rials (about $30 bilion) in defaults.

The Statistical Center of Iran has announced last week that the average unemployment rate from March 2013 to March 2014 was 10.4%.

The Rouhani Government has set a goal of creating 8.5 million new jobs in the next two years and reducing unemployment to 7% by 2015.