AP Exclusive: Iran would get nuclear help in proposed deal
Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran's supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he's willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal.
The talks, which resumed Wednesday in Vienna on restraining any Iranian efforts to make atomic arms, appeared to be behind schedule judging by the draft document obtained by The Associated Press.
The draft, one of several technical appendices meant to accompany the main body of any deal, has bracketed text in dozens of places where disagreements remain.
Technical cooperation is the least controversial issue at the talks, and the number of brackets suggest the sides have a ways to go not only on that topic but also more contentious disputes before the June 30 deadline for a deal.
Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.
Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei's remarks, saying Wednesday they were for "domestic political consumption." He said that if Iran did backtrack on commitments made in an April outline there would be no deal.
Kerry said neither he nor President Barack Obama would negotiate in public. "I am not tweeting," he said. "I am not making speeches, neither is President Obama."
In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran's Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV.
Both Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. monitor of Iranian compliance to any deal — say IAEA experts need such access to watch Tehran's present nuclear programs and to breathe life into a long-stalled investigation of suspicions that Iran worked on nuclear arms in previous years.
Graham Allison, who directs Harvard's Belfer Center think tank, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Khamenei's ban on visits to military facilities would be "a show-stopper" for a deal.