London, 4 Jul – Former US Secretary of State and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Friday said on Friday she hoped 18 months of nuclear talks between Iran and major powers would yield a deal in the coming days to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
“I so hope we are able to get a deal next week that puts the lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” she said at a rally on the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. “Even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran.”
“They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism. They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and create insurgencies to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel”, she said.
Negotiators from the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – and Iran are in Vienna trying to strike a deal whereby Tehran would curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Critics of an emerging possible deal have expressed concern that, if and when sanctions are lifted, Iran would plow its new windfall into efforts to destabilize Arab countries aligned with the West.
“So even if we are successful on the nuclear front, we still are going to have to turn our attention to working with our partners to try to rein in and prevent this continuing Iranian aggressiveness”, Clinton said.
In a YouTube video posted online Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif indicated that a deal was in reach.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog could issue a report on its investigation into past Iranian research suspected of being linked to nuclear weapons development by the end of the year if Tehran cooperates, the agency’s chief said on Saturday.
“With cooperation from Iran, I think we can issue a report by the end of the year on the assessment of the clarification of the issues related to the possible military dimensions,” International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Yukiya Amano told reporters on Saturday.
Amano on Friday suggested that his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Thursday had done little to advance his probe of alleged work by Tehran on an atomic weapon.
“More work will be needed” to kick-start the investigation, he said.
The United States and its allies says the IAEA must deliver a ruling on the suspicions based on Iranian cooperation, as part of the overall nuclear deal now being negotiated between Iran and six world powers.
“The purpose of the visit was to advance work towards the resolution of all outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including clarification of possible military dimensions”, Amano said in his statement on Friday.
The IAEA in 2011 released a major report on the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s programme, saying that the wealth of information made available to it was “credible”.
Tuesday was the official deadline to reach a long-term deal that would build on the preliminary agreement in Lausanne, but the seven countries have agreed to extend the deadline until 7 July to allow more time for negotiations.
Diplomats have said the real deadline is 9 July, the latest the deal can be presented to the US Congress to limit to 30 days a mandatory review period before Obama can begin suspending sanctions. After that, the review would last 60 days, with growing risks a deal could unravel.
US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that there would be no nuclear deal if Tehran does not agree to “serious, rigorous” inspections of its facilities.
“The goal of the nuclear negotiations is not to rely on trust, but to set up a verifiable mechanism where we are cutting off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon”, Obama said.
Iran’s main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), last week published a 28-page report stating that Iran has been trying to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact and retain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. It said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had put red lines for international inspectors having access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and any halt to nuclear Research and Development (R&D).
The NCRI, the group which first blew the whistle on Iran’s secret uranium enrichment and heavy-water sites in 2002, on Wednesday also warned that without “complete unrestricted access” to international inspectors to monitor Iranian military facilities, Iran could not be trusted to abide by the terms of the international agreement.
It published a partial list of Iranian nuclear sites that it had exposed and which Tehran had previously kept secret.
Based in part on wire reports