PHOTO: US President Barack Obama and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani



Analysis: 3 Signs that A Nuclear Deal Is “Within Reach”

UPDATE 1300 GMT: According to a top Iranian journalist, the technical experts at the Vienna nuclear talks have completed their work. They have handed over the final text, with some political gaps to be resolved, to political deputies and then to Foreign Ministers:

Even as their negotiators neared a nuclear deal in Vienna on Tuesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and US counterpart Barack Obama publicly maintained firm lines.

Rouhani said in a speech in Tehran, “If we reach a deal, both sides should be committed to it. If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine.”

Iranian State media bolstered Rouhani’s warning as it featured a letter from the Supreme Leader to the President, “Iran Must Boost Defense, Deterrence Power“.

In the letter outlining a National Development Plan, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran must counter “different types of threats” with progress in research and technology, devoting at least 5% of the Government budget to defense.

In Washington, Obama said that the US could handle failure to reach a deal: “My hope is they [negotiators in Vienna] can achieve an agreement….[But] I’ve said from the start, I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal.”

However, Rouhani’s and Obama’s statements did not indicate that the Vienna talks were near collapse. Instead, they appeared to play to domestic audiences as Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany) pursued compromises to deliver an agreement by July 7.

In the past 72 hours, negotiators from each sides have pointed to breakthroughs on key issues such as Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium, inspections of military sites, and the timing of the removal of UN, European Union, and US sanctions.

See Iran Analysis: 3 Signs that A Nuclear Deal Is “Within Reach”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi put out a cautious public statement on Wednesday morning, citing the “positive climate” of the discussions while saying:

There remain issues of difference on which no agreement has been reached yet, and there are certain texts which have not been written down yet. In fact, we are working on them round the clock.

Araqchi repeated the standard Iranian line, “An agreement should be a good one and a good agreement is the one that complies with the principles, frameworks and red lines set especially by the [Supreme] Leader and in that case we will agree to a deal.”

Supreme Leader Sets Target of 8% Annual Growth

The Supreme Leader has set an ambitious target of 8% annual growth in his 5-year plan for the Iranian economy.

Ayatollah Khamenei set out the objective in a letter to President Rouhani on Tuesday.

Few details were given beyond the Supreme Leader’s headline goals. General points include development of economic and political relations with Southeast Asian countries; attracting and absorbing foreign investment; increasing tourism by 500%; development of rural areas; improving the maritime economy in southern coastal areas; and completion of the National Internet.

Iran is hoping for 2.5% growth this year after a small recovery in 2014 from a significant downturn in the economy. GDP fell 6.8% in 2012 and 1.9% in 2013 before improving by 1.45% in 2014.

Even as it praises the document, Press TV notes how quickly it could be put in jeopardy:

The Government…is awaiting the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. If the negotiations lead to a final solution, Iran will see a notable rise in foreign investment. The Government says it has braced itself for the worst scenario where the country would retain its modest economic uptick even if the negotiations collapse.