Iran nuclear deal: What's getting in the way of a nuke deal with Iran?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that the final nuclear agreement could be delayed if six world powers keep raising new issues in the negotiations. What does he mean?

Ebrahim Noroozi/AP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference on the second anniversary of his election on Saturday, June 13, in Tehran, Iran.

Iran's president warned Saturday that a final nuclear agreement, expected by the end of June, could be delayed if six world powers keep raising new issues in the negotiations. He also said Iran will not jeopardize its "state secrets" under the cover of international inspections.

On the second anniversary of his election, President Hassan Rouhani said that sometimes the P5+1 group (China, Russia, France, Britain, and the United States plus Germany) tries to go back on the agreed framework, and that causes a delay in the talks.

“If the other side remains committed to the current frameworks, respects Iran’s rights and national interest, and stops asking for more, I believe agreement is within reach,” explained Rouhani in a televised news conference. At the same time he warned that if P5+1 takes the path of “brinkmanship,”negotiations could last longer.

A comprehensive agreement is expected by June 30, but according to some reports the negotiations have hit an impasse, partly over how much access the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors should have to Iranian military sites.

The Islamic Republic and six world powers reached a nuclear framework agreement on April 2, and commitment to the IAEA Additional Protocol was part of that agreement. The Additional Protocol allows UN inspectors more intrusive and short-notice (two hours) inspections outside of declared nuclear sites. But there has been different interpretations from both sides the current talks on the details of this protocol.

Rouhani appears to be making a public statement reinforcing the position of Iran's negotiators on such inspections. 

The P5+1 wants IAEA inspectors to have access to Iran's military sites as well as the right to interview Iranian nuclear scientists. But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on most matters of state in Iran, has also ruled out these requests.

Rouhani said on Saturday that although Iran will remain committed to the IAEA Additional Protocol, “it won’t let state secrets fall into the hands of others under the pretext of the Additional Protocol.”

Iran, along with 124 other countries, is a signatory of the Additional Protocol. It first signed the protocol in 2003 and began implementing it without ratification. Tehran stopped implementing the Additional Protocol in 2006.

In April, US State Department said that Iran had agreed to resume implementation of the Additional Protocol - including "managed access" to military sites, and would submit it for ratification.  But Rouhani and others have repeatedly stated that international inspectors will not be allowed to conduct inspections on the grounds of military sites.

On June 10, a US official told Reuters that the next round of negotiations would be "pretty tough." The official said: "We know there will not be an agreement until we can resolve that the IAEA will be able to verify whatever way is appropriate, whatever is necessary for this agreement, and that will include having managed access to a variety of sites and places in order to get this deal done."

 For the time being, both sides are still discussing the details and trying to reach a same interpretation of the protocol.

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