Next Iran negotiations to address removing ‘all sanctions’

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According to an Iranian parliamentary official who was briefed by a top Iranian nuclear negotiator, the next round of nuclear negotiations will address the removal of “all sanctions.”

Based on an interview by Fars News, it is not clear which sanctions will be addressed, but it can be assumed that the reference was to the nuclear-related sanctions passed in the last several years and not the entirety of sanctions that have been imposed in the last three decades. As part of the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), there has already been temporary partial sanctions relief in return for reduced nuclear activity.

According to Seyed Hossein Naghi Hosseini, spokesman for parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Deputy Foreign Minister and nuclear negotiator Seyed Abbas Aragchi said Saturday in his testimony to the committee that the next round of negotiations in Vienna on March 17 will address the removal of sanctions, the quality and quantity of enrichment, the Arak heavy water reactor and the “normalization” of Iran’s nuclear program.

Last week’s negotiations reportedly began with “complaints” about the P5+1, possibly referring to some of the rhetoric that Iranian officials have objected to, such as “all options” being “on the table.” It was also agreed that no issue other than the nuclear one would be addressed in the nuclear negotiations.

Some officials in Iran are worried that the nuclear negotiations will be used an excuse to normalize ties between the United States and Iran. However, both Araghchi, in previous statements, and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, one of the top US negotiators, have denied there have been discussions of the normalization of ties.

According to Hosseini, in his report, Araghchi said that the “four main topics” of the March 17 negotiations will be “enrichment by the Islamic Republic and its quantity and quality, sanctions and decreasing and complete removal of all sanctions, Arak heavy water reactor, and the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear cooperation.”

A total of six rounds of discussions for the next four months have also been scheduled.

Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee consists predominantly of hard-liners. Although they are not opposed to the Geneva nuclear agreement signed in November 2013, they have sought a greater role in the negotiations. In January, it was announced that two representatives from the committee would accompany Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Iranian negotiation team on the nuclear negotiations in a supervisory capacity.

At the meeting with Aragchi, Hosseini said, “There are many active lobbies trying to prevent the implementation of the [Geneva] deal” and that Israel is trying to “push America and the West to a military path.”