Iran’s lead negotiator at nuclear talks said Sunday that sending abroad its stocks of nuclear material, a key demand of world powers in talks in Switzerland, was unacceptable, though officials on both side said a deal was possible.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also told reporters at crunch talks in Lausanne the sides had yet to come together, citing a number of issues that had yet to be resolved.
“The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program and we do not intend sending them abroad… There is no question of sending the stocks abroad,” he said.
Araqchi said that the Iranian delegation would remain at the negotiation table for however long it takes to reach a good deal with world powers.
“Getting to an accord is doable. Solutions have been found for numerous questions. We are still working on two or three issues… The talks are in their final phase and are very difficult,” Araqchi told reporters.
“We are optimistic, the chances of getting a deal are there. But this requires the other side taking the necessary decisions and demonstrating their political will,” he said.
He denied earlier reports that world powers and Tehran were on the verge of reaching a nuclear deal, saying there were still a few sticking points remaining.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said late Sunday he believed a nuclear deal with Iran could be reached, but insisted it must put a nuclear bomb “beyond reach.”
“We are here because we believe a deal can be done… But it has to be a deal which puts the bomb beyond Iran’s reach. There can’t be any compromise about that,” Hammond said.
“It’s in everyone’s interests that a deal does get done. But it has to be a deal which puts the bomb beyond Iran‘s reach,” he said.
“There can’t be any compromise about that,” Hammond insisted.
He went straight into a meeting with ministers from the other P5+1 powers — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
They are also planning to have a full meeting to include Iran as they chase the outlines of a deal to pare back the Iranian nuclear program and thwart any covert dash for a bomb.
“If we’re going to get this done here over the next few hours Iran has got to take a deep breath and make some tough decisions to ensure that those red lines can be met,” Hammond said.
“And I very much hope we will have success over the coming hours.”