Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Anne Gearan
The Washington Post
(Continued from page 1)
Rouhani’s election is widely seen as a recognition by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the crushing sanctions and diplomatic isolation imposed on Iran over its nuclear program were not worth the cost.
Khamenei, who is likely to make the final decision about developing any nuclear weapon, has given Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greater license than many in the West had expected in reaching a deal. That includes a concession by Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent potency, a level considered within striking distance of bomb-quality fuel. The existing stockpile of 20 percent fuel would be degraded over the six-month period of talks.
Iran will get about $4.2 billion in relief from the release of previously frozen oil revenue in that period. It will receive the first installment – $550 million – on Feb. 1, a senior U.S. official said Sunday on the condition of anonymity because the arrangement was discussed privately. Existing international sanctions will be paused but not revoked, which the United States, Britain and other partners say allows for a quick tightening of the economic noose if Iran balks. Skeptics in Congress and elsewhere say that once loosened, the oil sanctions will be impossible to revive.
Zarif has said that if new sanctions are passed, “the entire deal is dead.”
Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, said in an interview with Iran’s state news channel that the Islamic republic would continue enriching uranium to the 20 percent threshold until the last possible moment before Jan. 20.
Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the positive in a statement Sunday.
“I want to commend the very critical and significant step today taken towards reaching a verifiable resolution that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said.