Russia: Lift Iran sanctions in exchange for int’l control of nuke program

Economic pressure undermines attempts to solve the diplomatic crisis, says Russian deputy FM

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks in Geneva, October, 2013. (AP/Fabrice Coffrini)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov looks on at the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks in Geneva, October, 2013. (AP/Fabrice Coffrini)

Russia reportedly proposed on Wednesday the lifting of all economic sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic agrees to have its nuclear program placed under international control.

Speaking in Geneva, after the wrap of a 2-day meeting between the P5+1 and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov alleged that sanctions “undermine” attempts to solve the diplomatic crisis, reported Russia Today.

“The beacon, the main arrangement that we follow is the proposal by [President] Vladimir Putin that the recognition of Iran’s right to [uranium] enrichment as part of its inseparable rights under the Non-proliferation Treaty should be accompanied by the introduction of full comprehensive international control over the Iranian nuclear program,” Ryabkov told reporters.

The lifting of sanctions will be tricky, the deputy foreign minister admitted, citing a “low level of trust” between Tehran and the West.

He described the Geneva meeting as “better than many people thought, but worse than what we hoped for.”

In Washington, a group of Senators rebuffed efforts on the part of the Obama administration to negotiate with Iran, and called for tougher sanctions to be levied on the Islamic Republic.

“No one should be impressed by what Iran appears to have brought to the table in Geneva,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. “Tehran has broken its word far too many times to be trusted. Due to its complete disregard for previous international agreements, we must take a firm stand in all negotiations regarding the nuclear capabilities Iran is permitted to retain.”

The administration for its part expressed cautious optimism.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the talks contained a “level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before.”

While cautioning not to expect a prompt breakthrough, Carney said the US “found the Iranian presentation very useful.”

The sides released a statement at the end of talks calling the meetings “substantive and forward looking.”

Iran wants painful international sanctions to be lifted in exchange for possible concessions it had been previously unwilling to consider, such as increased international monitoring of its nuclear program and the scaling back of Iran’s uranium enrichment — a potential path to nuclear arms and the centerpiece of its impasse with the West.

Earlier in the day, Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Tehran would be open to surprise inspections of its nuclear sites,’ according to AFP, quoting the semi-official Iranian outlet IRNA.

Israeli media indicated that Iran was also willing to reduce the level to which it will enrich uranium.

While specific proposals were not made public Thursday, reports carried by Israeli TV indicated that Iran was proposing a six-month period of confidence-building gestures between the sides, followed by a six-month period in which agreed changes would be implemented in the Iranian nuclear program.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the West to demand the complete dismantling of the Iranian “military nuclear” program, including an end to all uranium enrichment on Iranian territory, arguing that the capacity for even low-level enrichment would enable Iran to speed toward the bomb if and when it chose to do so. Jerusalem has also pushed for sanctions to remain in place.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment Thursday on the apparent diplomatic advances made in Geneva.

AP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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