Iran’s Supreme Leader may send his top aide to nuclear talks on Sunday in Oman with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Unnamed sources told Al-Monitor that Ali Abkar Velayati, a former Foreign Minister, will join current Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a sign of the Supreme Leader’s willingness to accept a comprehensive agreement before a November 24 deadline.
Velayati also went to Oman in October 2012 for secret talks with US officials over a renewal of the nuclear talks. Oman also hosted secret US-Iran discussions in March 2013, soon after Tehran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) resumed negotiations.
However, another Iranian official denied the report. Other Iranian and US officials would not comments.
The lead Iranian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, said on Saturday that a “deal is within reach”:
No one wants to return to the way things were before the Geneva Agreement [for interim arrangements in November 2013]. That would be too risky a scenario.
Both sides are aware of this, which is why I think a deal is within reach. We are serious and I can see the same resolve on the other side.
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani echoed that there was a “good opportunity” to resolve a dispute of more than a decade: “The path of the government and the 5+1 group in the nuclear negotiations is a rational approach, and we hope that they can reach an agreement through serious talks.”
Major issues for resolution before the interim arrangements expire in two weeks include the level and number of Iranian centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the removal of US-led sanctions on Tehran, and the duration of an agreement.
The Supreme Leader has been sceptical of any deal with a “dishonest” US, but may have to accept a settlement because of the precarious state of Iran’s economy.
Some Iranian officials have been telling Reuters that the deal is necessary because of the difficulties amid continuing sanctions that have cut Tehran’s oil exports by more than 40%. The situation has been compounded by the 25% fall in the price of oil, Iran’s main source of income, in recent weeks.
President Rouhani recently warned MPs that Iran has lost 30% in oil revenues.
Supreme Leader’s Office: “Israeli Crimes Can Only Be Ended by Elimination of Zionist Regime”
The office of the Supreme Leader launched a Twitter offensive on Sunday morning, restating Ayatollah Khamenei’s “red lines” in the nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers.
However, the main concern was answering, “Why & how can #Israel be eliminated?”:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 9, 2014
During its 66 years of life so far, the fake Zionist regime has tried to realize its goals by means of infanticide, homicide, violence, and iron fist while [it] boasts about it blatantly.
The only means of bringing Israeli crimes to an end is the elimination of this regime.