Iran and six powers remain divided in nuclear talks
France sees big hurdles in search for deal; John Kerry in Geneva for third day of talks
“The security concerns of Israel and all the countries of the region have to be taken into account,” Fabius said.
Still, the fact that a deal may finally be feasible after a decade of feuding rather than genuine negotiations between Iran and the West highlighted a striking shift in the tone of Tehran’s foreign policy since the election in June of Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatic former nuclear negotiator, as president.
Iran, which harbours some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, wants the six powers to lift increasingly tough restrictions that have slashed its daily crude sales revenue by 60 percent in the past two years.
Iran and the powers are discussing a partial nuclear suspension deal covering around half a year. If a preliminary deal is nailed down, it would only be the first stage in a process involving many rounds of intricate negotiations in the next few months aimed at securing a permanent agreement.
One idea under consideration is the disbursement in instalments of up to about $50 billion of Iranian funds blocked in foreign accounts for decades. Another step could be temporarily relaxing restrictions on precious metals trade.
A further step could be Washington suspending pressure on countries not to buy Iranian oil. Diplomats say that such a move by Washington could be immediate and easily reversible if Iran failed to meet its obligations under a deal.
Negotiators have limited political room to manoeuvre as there is hardline resistance to any rapprochement in Tehran - especially its elite Revolutionary Guards - and in the US Congress and either could make it hard to implement any deal.
The Obama administration has said world powers will consider some sanctions relief, while leaving the complex web of US, EU and UN restrictions in place, if Iran takes verifiable steps to rein in its nuclear programme.
Lending urgency to the need for a breakthrough was a threat by the U.S. Congress to pursue tough new sanctions on Iran. Obama has been urging Congress to hold off on more punitive steps to isolate Iran, demanded by Israel, to avoid undermining the delicate diplomatic opening with the country.
But many US lawmakers, including several of Obama’s fellow Democrats, believe tough sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table in the first place and that more are needed to discourage it from diverting enrichment toward bomb-making.