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U.S. in ‘secret side deal’ with Iran

January 14, 2014
By Paul  RichterJanuary 13, 2014,  8:45 p.m.
WASHINGTON – Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not  yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran’s chief negotiator said  Monday.

Abbas Araqchi disclosed the existence of the document in a Persian-language  interview with the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.

The new  agreement, announced over the weekend, sets out a timetable for how Iran and  the six nations, led by the United States, will implement a deal reached in  November that is aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

When officials from Iran and the world powers announced that they had  completed the implementing agreement, they didn’t release the text of the deal,  nor did they acknowledge the existence of an informal addendum.

In the interview, Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English  word “nonpaper,” a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that  doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly.

The nonpaper deals with such important details as the operation of a joint  commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran’s right to continue  nuclear research and development during the next several months, he said.

Araqchi described the joint commission as an influential body that will have  authority to decide disputes. U.S. officials have described it as a discussion  forum rather than a venue for arbitrating major disputes.

White  House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the text of the implementing agreement would be released to  lawmakers. He said the six parties were weighing how much of the text they could  release publicly.

Asked late Monday about the existence of the informal nonpaper, White House  officials referred the question to the State  Department. A State Department comment wasn’t immediately available.

[Updated 8:45 p.m. Jan. 13: A State Department spokeswoman,  Marie Harf, denied later Monday that there was any secret agreement.

“Any documentation associated with implementation tracks completely with what  we’ve described,” she said. “These are technical plans submitted to the  International Atomic Energy Agency,” the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog  agency.

“We will make information available to Congress and the public as it becomes  available,” Harf said.]

Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Iran  and the other six countries may have written the nonpaper to record  understandings that they didn’t want to release publicly. The governments may  plan to release “just a short text, with broad principles and broad strokes,”  Takeyh said.

The Nov. 24 deal between Iran and the six powers – the U.S., Britain, France,  Russia, China and Germany — aims to freeze Iran’s nuclear progress for six  months. During that period, the two sides will try to negotiate a longer-term  deal aimed at ensuring that Tehran’s nuclear  program remains peaceful. The agreement has come under fire in Iran and the  United States from critics who contend it is harmful to their side.

In his interview, Araqchi touched on the sensitive issue of how much latitude  Iran will have to continue its nuclear research and development.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Iran would be allowed to continue existing  research and development projects and with pencil-and-paper design work, but not  to advance research with new projects. Araqchi, however, implied that the  program would have wide latitude.

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and  nuclear research will be expanded,” he said. “All research into a new generation  of centrifuges will continue.”

The research and development issue has been an important one for many U.S.  lawmakers, who fear that Iran will try to forge ahead with its nuclear program  while the negotiations are underway. At an administration briefing for senators  Monday, members of both parties raised concerns about the centrifuge research  issue, aides said.

President Obama on  Monday again hailed the implementing agreement and appealed to Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran, for fear of driving the country from the  bargaining table.

“My preference is for peace and diplomacy, and this is one of the reasons why  I’ve sent the message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new  sanctions; now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts  to do their work,” Obama said. “What we want to do is give diplomacy a chance  and give peace a chance.”

CREDIT TO:  Paul  Richter / Los Angeles Times,0,4116168.story#ixzz2qO1aGbE9

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