Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York on Monday as Iran and the 5+1 Powers renewed nuclear talks seeking a comprehensive agreement by June 30.

No details were released, but Zarif said that Kerry had given assurances that the Obama Administration will maintain commitment to any resolution:

The US delegation reassured us that in case of any agreement, the US government will commit to the implementation of the deal.

What we expect the US administration and other governments is that they remain committed to their international obligations.

Iran has expressed concern that the US Congress could block or overturn any agreement. Earlier this month, the Obama Administration reached a compromise with legislators, allowing them a 30-day review period but preventing a formal vote to accept or reject the provisions.

Zarif also said negotiators of Iran and the 5+1 (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) will continue drafting the details of the final agreement on Wednesday, hoping to complete their work by next week.

Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, said that last week’s discussions in Vienna had begun the drafting and expressed optimism that the two sides were closing gaps on issues such as the timing of sanctions removal.

After a nuclear framework was announced on April 2, there was fencing between the US and Iran over the process for the lifting or suspension of UN, European Union, and US sanctions. However, Iranian criticism ebbed after President Obama signaled a compromise allowing the immediate removal of some sanctions upon signature of an agreement, provided they can be re-imposed if Iran violates the terms.

Zarif also met the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, issuing an expression of hope that the IAEA “can play a more active role” to bring about the comprehensive deal.

The IAEA and Iran are in ongoing discussions to fulfil the guidelines of a February 2014 agreement for information on Tehran’s nuclear program and inspection of its facilities.

Kerry said, in a speech to a UN conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

We are, in fact, closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.

The hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved.

In Washington, the lead American negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman fought Congressional resistance by warning that the failure to reach a deal would leave Iran in the position to obtain a bomb in the near-future.

Sherman said that Iran would expand its uranium enrichment to 100,000 centrifuges, instead of the limit of 5,000 in the nuclear framework. She added that Tehan could produce enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce another two bombs each year:

So when you look at the comparison to the agreement we are negotiating and the chance that we wouldn’t succeed — the better course of action is abundantly clear.

(Featured Photo: AFP)

Leading Women’s Magazine Banned For Articles “Against Public Chastity”

Iran’s leading women’s magazine, Zanan-e Emrooz (Today’s Women), has been banned by the Press Oversight Committee and threatened with prosecution.

The Press Committee declared the publication was banned as it was “against public chastity”. Iranian media said the reason was Zanan-e Emrooz’s promotion and justification of “white marriages”, a term used by regime officials for co-habitation of unmarried couples.

The managing editor of Zanan-e Emrooz, Shahla Sherkat, said that she hoped to convince a court to allow resumption of the monthly magazine’s publication.

“I have not been formally served with the notice of the decision. I read about the ban on my publication in the news,” Sherkat said.

Zanan-e Emrooz began publication in June 2014. Before leading the magazine, Sherkat was the Managing Editor of Zanan magazine for 16 years before it was banned in February 2008.

Head of Revolutionary Guards: “Saudis Follow in Israel’s Footsteps, House of Saud Close to Collapse”

In a wide-ranging speech on Monday, the head of the Revolutionary Guards stepped up the war of words with Saudi Arabia by declaring that Riyadh is “on the verge of collapse”.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari condemned the Saudis for hundreds of deaths in Yemen since a Saudi-led aerial intervention, seeking to check the expanding power of the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement, last month: “Saudi Arabia has shamelessly and rudely violated all the Islamic principles and attacked a Muslim country, a country which is opposed to hegemonic system and seeks independence.”

He continued:

Today, the treacherous Saudis are following in Israel’s footsteps. The opponents of the Islamic Revolution are better known every day and they can no longer hide themselves behind the mask of hypocrisy….Now that these attacks have taken place…the House of Saud is facing collapse

Jafari’s statement is the latest signal that the Yemeni conflict has halted any effort by President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif for “engagement” with Saudi Arabia over regional issues. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has had back-channel contacts with representatives of the Saudi monarchy, and Zarif even went to Saudi Arabia for ceremonies after the death of King Abdullah in January.

Jafari also took aim at the US on Monday, declaring, “The next wave of the Islamic Revolution will bring down global hegemony,” and calling for “jihadist movements” in the fields of politics, economy, and science.”