Iran is threatening to walk away from nuclear talks with the US and other world powers, Iranian media reported on Monday, as the second day of high-level negotiations kick off in Switzerland.
Iranian chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi said that the Islamic Republic would leave talks if “other parties impose their will,” Press TV reported.
The P5+1 and Iran are attempting to finalize details of a framework agreement that aims at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Should Iran agree to the initial deal, Western powers will ease international sanctions ahead of the March 24 deadline.
Iran’s threat came just days after US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that US President Barack Obama is “fully prepared” to pull out of nuclear talks.
On Sunday, senior Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati responded to Kerry by saying that Iran’s next move, either staying or leaving, “depends on the Americans.”
“If American leaders don’t want to negotiate, it’s up to them, but they were the ones who were after negotiations,” said Velayati.
Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohamed Javed Zarid, arrived in Geneva on Sunday for the latest round of nuclear talks. The secretary warned that “significant gaps” remain.
US and Iranian diplomats have been meeting in Geneva since Friday. Senior negotiators from the P5+1 – Britain, China, Russia, France, United States and Germany – are meeting alongside US and Iranian diplomats to help push talks forward.
The deadline to reach an agreement on a political framework for a permanent deal is March 31. Kerry warned Saturday that the P5+1 was “unified” in its view that the Geneva talks will show “whether or not Iran is able to match its words about its willingness to show that its program is fully peaceful.”
Israel has warned repeatedly that despite what Iran claims, the Islamic Republic is not seeking nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the proposed framework agreement “will allow Iran to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint-session of the US Congress on the issue of Iran on March 3. The controversial speech is aimed at convincing US lawmakers and negotiators to scrap the diplomatic route with Iran.
“I will go to the US next week in order to explain to the American Congress, which could influence the fate of the agreement, why this agreement is dangerous for Israel, the region and the entire world,” he said.
According to leaked details of the talks, the US is reportedly softening in its stance towards Iran and allowing a higher number centrifuges to remain in Iranian possession. In a stunning admission, the White House said that it was purposely leaving Israel in the dark regarding details of nuclear talks so that Israel would not have any opportunity to torpedo the agreement.