Basis for Iran nuclear agreement reached, EU official says

Posted at 2:05 PM, Apr 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-02 14:05:46-04

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CNN) — Latest developments:

• The basis for an agreement for a peaceful Iranian nuclear program and a lifting of sanctions against that nation has been reached, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced in Switzerland. “We have reached solutions on key parameters of a joint comprehensive plan of action,” she said.

• Iran’s enrichment capacity and stockpile will be limited, and Iran’s sole enrichment facility will be at the Natanz nuclear facility, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. Other nuclear facilities will be converted for other uses, she said.

• Before Mogherini’s statement, a Western diplomat told CNN that a “broad political agreement with some specifics” would be announced in a joint statement from the parties involved in Iran’s nuclear program talks. The agreement puts significant curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, but leaves much of it intact, the diplomat said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a tweet saying that “parameters to resolve major issues” have been reached.

[Previous story, published at 1:25 p.m. ET]

Iran, EU hint at breakthrough in nuclear talks

Significant agreements have been reached regarding Iran’s nuclear program, according to tweets by officials ahead of a planned joint statement.

“Found solutions,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted. “Ready to start drafting immediately.”

“Solutions on key parameters” reached, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, tweeted, “Good news,” regarding the talks.

The flurry of tweets basically amounted to a leak of the upcoming statement. The message: expect a breakthrough from the marathon talks in Lausanne.

Mogherini is expected to make a statement, which will also be read in Farsi by Zarif.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is also expected to make a statement.

The goal had been to agree on a framework for a future final nuclear agreement by Tuesday. The talks stretched well past the original deadline.

The statement will mark the end of a round of talks that started last week.

Earlier Thursday, as Zarif was walking back to the hotel where the negotiations were being held, he told reporters that a statement was in the works.

Issuing a statement sounds like something less significant than the framework of understanding that the parties were aiming for.

“What we expect today is a statement and the fact that we have all reached common understanding on how to resolve the issues,” Zarif said. “But the agreement, a written agreement, is something that needs to be drafted by all participants and agreed upon in a multilateral process. And that would take, hopefully, three months, to finalize, and hopefully less.”

Asked if an understanding has been reached on all issues, Zarif replied, “that’s what we think we have, but nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

World powers — the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany — were examining the results of the overnight talks without Iran present, he said.

The talks, aimed at reaching a preliminary political deal on Iran’s nuclear program, blew past their initial, self-imposed deadline of late Tuesday as Iranian and U.S. negotiators struggled to find compromises on key issues.

But the negotiators have doggedly continued their work in Lausanne, trying to overcome decades of mistrust between Tehran and Washington.

The mutual mistrust has been a serious problem in the talks, Zarif said.

“I believe respect is something that needs to be exercised in practice and in deeds, and I hope that everyone is engaging in that in mutual respect,” he said.

‘A few meters from the finishing line’

“We are a few meters from the finishing line, but it’s always the last meters that are the most difficult. We will try and cross them,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said as he returned to the talks late Wednesday. “We want a robust and verifiable agreement, and there are still points where there needs to be progress, especially on the Iranian side.”

Iran wants swift relief from punishing sanctions that have throttled its economy. And Western countries want to make sure any deal holds Iran back from being able to rapidly develop a nuclear weapon.

It’s unclear what kind of accord might emerge from this round of talks — Iran appears to be resisting too many specifics, while the U.S. side wants to put hard numbers on key points.

Whatever it might turn out to be, the interim deal will need to be fleshed out into a full deal by June 30. Some of the thorniest issues could end up being left for that final phase.

But in the meantime, the Obama administration needs something solid enough it can sell to a skeptical Congress, which has threatened to impose new sanctions on Iran. The potential deal is also coming under sustained attack from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.