UPDATE 1845 GMT: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said that Iran will have to make more concessions for a comprehensive nuclear deal.
Speaking in Riyadh after talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, Hammond told reporters:
It remains the case that Iran has to make significant further movement if we are going to be able to secure an agreement.
There are a lot of complex and difficult issues that remain to be resolved before a deal can be agreed. Reaching a comprehensive, lasting and verifiable deal will be extremely challenging but remains in all our interests.
Hammond said he assured the Saudis authorities that Britain would not accept an agreement at any price:
The right deal is one that allows Iran to have a civilian nuclear program but prevents it from developing a nuclear weapon capability. It remains our position that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (pictured), has said Tehran will make no more concessions in talks which are at a “sensitive” stage.
Hitting back at Barack Obama’s weekend remarks that the Islamic Republic has not given enough ground for a comprehensive agreement, Araqchi said that the US President was trying to influence the process of the negotiations.
The Minister restated that “other parties are expected to respect Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program and remove the sanctions they are unjustly imposing”.
The tone of Araqchi’s comments is a notable contrast to that of President Rouhani, who said on Saturday that an agreement was possible with compromises from each side. The negotiator said, “None of the parties is expected to offer concessions, especially Iran.”
Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) adjourned on Friday after five days of talks in Switzerland. The two sides are seeking a resolution by an informal deadline, set by the US, of March 31 and a formal cut-off of July.
The negotiations resume on Wednesday or Thursday. Key issues are the lifting of US-led sanctions, the duration of an agreement, and the level and number of Iran’s centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Pro-Green Movement Website Jaras Stops Operations After 6 Years
The Jaras (Rah-e Sabz) website, launched in July 2009 to support the Green Movement’s challenge for rights and reforms, has stopped operations.
Jaras said in a statement that it had hoped to continue until the release from strict house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard — detained in February 2011 — were lifted. However, it said that “religious despotism has shown greater endurance”.
No reason was given for the closure. The site’s archive will remain available to readers.