Newspaper article International New York Times

Each Side Has Its Own View of Nuclear Deal ; U.S. and Iran Released Outlines with Noteworthy Discrepancies in Terms

Newspaper article International New York Times

Each Side Has Its Own View of Nuclear Deal ; U.S. and Iran Released Outlines with Noteworthy Discrepancies in Terms

Article excerpt

A review of the statements released by the United States and Iran shows some significant divisions over the terms of the accord.

Negotiators at the nuclear talks in Switzerland emerged from marathon talks on Thursday with a surprisingly detailed outline of the agreement they now must work to finalize by the end of June.

But one problem is that there are two versions.

The only joint document issued publicly was a statement from Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, that was all of seven paragraphs.

The statement listed about a dozen "parameters" that are to guide the next three months of talks, including the commitment that the Natanz installation in Iran will be the only location at which uranium is enriched during the life of the agreement.

But the United States and Iran have also made public more detailed accounts of their agreements in Lausanne, and those accounts underscore their expectations for what the final accord should say.

A careful review shows that there is considerable overlap between the two accounts, but also some noteworthy differences -- which have raised the question of whether the two sides are entirely on the same page, especially on the question of how quickly sanctions are to be removed. The American and Iranian statements also do not clarify some critical issues, such as precisely what sort of research Iran will be allowed to undertake on advanced centrifuges during the first 10 years of the accord.

"This is just a work in progress, and those differences in fact sheets indicate the challenges ahead," said Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Obama administration officials insist that there is no dispute on what was agreed to behind closed doors. But to avoid time-consuming deliberations on what would be said publicly, the two sides decided during all-night discussions last Wednesday that each would issue its own statement.

American officials acknowledge that they did not inform the Iranians in advance of all the "parameters" the United States would make public in an effort to lock in progress made so far, as well as to strengthen the White House's case against any move by members of Congress to impose more sanctions against Iran.

"We talked to them and told them that we would have to say some things," said a senior administration official who could not be identified under the protocol for briefing reporters. "We didn't show them the paper. We didn't show them the whole list."

No sooner were the negotiations over on Thursday, however, than Mr. Zarif posted to Twitter a message that dismissed the five-page set of American parameters as "spin."

In an appearance on Iranian state television Saturday, Mr. Zarif kept up that refrain, saying that Iran had formally complained to Secretary of State John Kerry that the measures listed in the American statement were "in contradiction" to what had actually been accepted. …

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