Iran: No “backward steps” on nuclear program acceptable

The new deadline on November 24 for Iran is rapidly approaching, and still large questions about basic elements of the deal are prevalent in the media. Iran has released new statements prohibiting any approval in negotiations on “backward steps,” specifically the enrichment of uranium and number of active centrifuges. The comments were made by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is heading up the Iranian delegation in charge of negotiations under Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and were in response to lead US negotiator Wendy Sherman calling on Araqchi to “finish the job,” citing the size and scope of the enrichment program as a barrier to any real progress. She further stated “Iran’s leaders would very much hope that the world would conclude that the status quo – at least on this pivotal subject – should be acceptable, but obviously it is not.”

Commentators note this example as further evidence that Iran does not fear any consequences for its current program and the regime is biding its time, waiting for P5+1 negotiators to buckle closer to the deadline. They further admonish the United States government from promising to slap even more sanctions on the regime in order to increase the pressure that Rouhani’s moderate coalition is under to improve the depressed economy. As for the program, it is unclear how many active centrifuges remain operational, but US figures put that number at several thousand.

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