Commitments made, Iran and 6 powers advance tough nuke talks


By Matthew Lee and George Jahn ,AP

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With one phase of nuclear talks over, Iran and six world powers now have an ambitious to-do list that — if implemented — will cut significantly into Iran’s bomb-capable technology while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and other financial assets blocked by international sanctions.

But the deal is far from done. The sides have been working on a substantive result for nearly two years. After a week of grueling negotiations, they managed on Thursday only to draw up a series of commitments that still must be worked out in detail before June 30. That is the deadline agreed on months before negotiators sat down in Lausanne for the final haggling.

If implemented, the undertakings will substantially pare back some Iranian nuclear assets for a decade and restrict others for an additional five years. It would be the first significant success for the United States and its partners in more than a decade of diplomatic efforts focusing on capping Tehran’s nuclear advance.

Yet even before the talks culminated in the preliminary outline of what needs be done, both sides warned of the hard work ahead. And the bickering began just a few hours after the sides signed off on their preliminary understanding.

��There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on,�� tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a reference to a public document released by the United States listing both sides’ commitments. He also questioned some of the assertions contained in the document, such as the speed of a U.S. sanctions drawdown.

According to that text, many of the nuclear limits on Iran would be in place for a decade, while others would last 15 or 20 years. Sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programs would be suspended by the U.S. and the European Union and eased by the U.N. after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s compliance.

The fact sheet also says Tehran is committed to significant cuts in centrifuges, the machines that can spin uranium gas to levels used in nuclear warheads. Of the nearly 20,000 centrifuges Iran now has installed or running at its main enrichment site, the country would be allowed to operate just over 5,000. Much of its enriched stockpiles would be neutralized. A planned reactor would be reconstructed so it produced no weapons-grade plutonium. Monitoring and inspections by the U.N. nuclear agency would be enhanced.

Opponents of the emerging accord, including Israel and Republican leaders in Congress, reacted with skepticism. They criticized the outline for failing to do enough to curb Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons or to mandate intrusive enough inspections. President Barack Obama, who seeks an Iran nuclear deal as a capstone of his presidency, disagreed.