With the approach of the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, Reuters declared Tuesday that Tehran is prepared to compromise and accept a partial removal of sanctions.
Citing an unnamed “senior Iranian official”, Reuters said Tehran’s negotiating team — with the support of the Supreme Leader — is proposing that the European Union’s restrictions of July 2012 be lifted. The official said:
Iran wants to return to the situation before these sanctions were imposed. If agreed, it will help in reaching a compromise by the Nov. 24 deadline.
The EU’s measures were a sweeping check on the Iranian economy, including bans on insurance for tanker carrying the Islamic Republic’s oil and barriers to financial transactions.
The official supposedly said that Iran was ready to compromise from fear of political and economic collapse: “What is in danger is the existence of the establishment if the economic hardship continues.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry slapped down the report later in the day, with spokesperson Marzieh Afkham insisting, “This issue is not right at all.”
The question of compromise over sanctions may be peripheral, however, given greater obstacles to the completion of a deal. As the Reuters report notes — albeit deep in the article — the biggest issue is still the number and level of Iranian centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Meetings last week in Vienna — including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton — were unable to close the large gap between the two sides.
The Supreme Leader has insisted that Iran must have self-sufficiency in its civil nuclear program, with a centrifuge capacity of 190,000 Separative Work Units. Although Iranian negotiators are putting forth a much lower number in discussions, the US is still unwilling to countenance even 10,000 SWUs.
Delegations from Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) begin two days of technical talks in Vienna on Wednesday, considering the issues of enrichment capacity, removal of sanctions, and duration of a comprehensive deal.