Deal struck on wider Iran sites inspections
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, left, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano, pose for a photo under portraits of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, and Iran's founder of Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, right, following their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Monday. Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency have reached a roadmap deal for cooperation during talks in Tehran Saturday that expands the monitoring of the country's nuclear sites. AP photo
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran agreed Monday to offer more information and expanded access to U.N. nuclear inspectors — including more openings at a planned reactor and uranium site — even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Iranian envoys had backed away from a wider deal seeking to ease Western concerns that Tehran could one day develop atomic weapons.
But Iran’s foreign minister criticized Kerry’s remarks, saying the American’s “conflicting statements” damaged confidence in the process, adding that “considerable progress was made” in Geneva.
The flurry of announcements and comments showed both the complexities and urgency in trying to move ahead on an accord between Iran and world powers after overtime talks in Geneva failed to produce a deal that could curb Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for a rollback in some U.S.-led economic sanctions.
With negotiators set to resume next week, Iranian officials promoted the pact reached with the U.N. nuclear chief Yukiya Amano as a “roadmap” for greater cooperation and transparency, which could move the talks ahead. But the plans do not mention some of the sites most sought by U.N. teams to probe suspicions of nuclear-related work, notably the Parchin military facility outside Tehran.
“It’s an important step forward, but by no means the end of the process,” Amano said in Tehran. “There is still much work to be done.”
Kerry said it was Iran that put the brakes on reaching a first-phase agreement, but gave no details on the Iranian concerns and suggested it was only a matter of time before a formula is found.
“There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it,” Kerry said during a stop in Abu Dhabi. He added: “The French signed off on it, we signed off on it.”
Kerry told the BBC on Monday that negotiators had been “very, very close ... extremely close” to reaching a deal with Iran.
“I think we were separated by four or five different formulations of a particular concept,” he said.
Later Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Kerry’s remarks that blamed Iran for lack of a deal when asked about them on an Iranian TV talk show.
“Conflicting statements harm the credibility of the one who keeps changing positions and damages confidence. The goal of dialogue is to reduce the lack of trust. Conflicting talk doesn’t give credit to the person saying it,” Zarif said.
He said “considerable progress” was made during three days of talks in Geneva but claimed that most of the hours were spent with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany trying “to resolve differences among themselves.” He said he’s still hopeful a deal will be reached, but insisted any agreement must include the lifting of all Western sanctions against Iran.