Iran official says final nuclear deal is possible

5:09 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
Centrifuges inside Bushehr nuclear plant in 2005, Bushehr, Iran.
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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A top adviser to Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday Tehran is ready for a final nuclear deal with world powers over its disputed nuclear program, a strong signal of interest after it pulled out of expert-level talks to protest the U.S. targeting of companies it says evaded current sanctions.

The official IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted Ali Akbar Velayati as saying the "situation is ready" for such a deal when he was asked if the final agreement is possible.

Velayati is the foreign adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters in Iran, including the country's nuclear policies.

Iran last week pulled out of the talks in Vienna to protest the U.S. move. It had reached an interim deal with world powers in Geneva last month.

"Continuation of the talks and loyalty to the Geneva deal is Iran's policy," Velayati was quoted as saying. He said the U.S. decision on extending the sanctions on more Iranian companies had prompted international outcry, citing Russia in particular.

However Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif once again warned that the deal could fail if the White House cannot find a solution to contain those in the U.S. administration who support extending sanctions. "Otherwise, it is not definite that the deal will conclude," he said.

Referring to an unnamed official in the U.S. Treasury, Zarif said Iran felt some U.S. officials did not have a "realistic approach."

Earlier on Sunday, Zarif said his country will continue nuclear negotiations with world powers, despite ups and downs. "We had predicted this from the first day," he said.

Also Tuesday, prominent lawmaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar lent support for a return to negotiations. "Weakening the negotiation team does not match the interests" of Iran, he said "We support Foreign Minister Zarif's viewpoint."

The remarks by both Velayati and Bahonar show Iran's leadership is firmly seeking settling the nuclear issue.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi met with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, after which he told the semi-official Fars news agency that "expert-level talks will resume soon."

Also on Tuesday, Marzieh Afkham, Iran's foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Iran expects all parties to begin implementation of the deal simultaneously, "We expect one specific date to be set for the implementation (of mutual actions agreed in Geneva). Both parties should agree on one specific day for implementation. On that given day all parties must fulfill their commitments."

The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes like power generation and medical treatment.

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