On its fourth day, Saturday, Nov. 23, the agonizing haggling in Geneva over an accord for a six-month freeze on Iran’s nuclear program turned into a cliffhanger, punctuated by exhibitions of high dudgeon, deadlines and threats to walk out.
Saturday night, an accord between Iran and the six world powers was barely hanging in balance – a step short of breakdown – when US Secretary of State John Kerry announced he was leaving for London the next day to meet Foreign Secretary William Hague, although both were present at the same venue in the Swiss city.
The Iranian delegation also let it be known that they were packing their bags to leave without waiting for an accord, although Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araghchi remained available in the conference rooms. They were on hand for the negotiations to limp forward for another day or perhaps hoping for a surprise breakthrough.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources reveal the seven non-negotiable points the Iranian delegation put before John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and European Union foreign executive Catherine Ashton:
Seven conditions and an escape clause
1. Iran will not consider halting or delaying the construction of the Arak heavy water reactor which is scheduled for completion next year, but is willing to allow the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano to visit the site, provided he is not accompanied by nuclear experts.
Amano rejected this offer when he visited Tehran earlier this month.
2. Iran is prepared to convert its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium (estimated at 200 kilos) into oxide power but will not agree to halt enrichment in the future.
3. The Six Powers must give Tehran a signed document acknowledging Iran’s right to enrich uranium. This document must be tendered before Iran enters into details on its commitments.
4. Iran will be ready to sign the NPT anew and present it to parliament for ratification – but only in the final stage of diplomacy on the drafting of a final accord for its nuclear program.
5. Iran declines to answer any queries about its military nuclear program because it denies its existence.
6. UN inspectors will be allowed to visit the Parchin military base provided that the purpose of the visit, its precise route and detailed reasons for their search are submitted in advance.
7. The Iranian signature on the interim accord under discussion in Geneva must be validated by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and ratified by the Majlis.
debkafile: This last point provides Tehran with an escape clause from any deal concluded in Geneva.