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Iran nuclear talks hit snag

Iran nuclear talks hit snag

The controversial negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have hit a snag over the termination of United Nations sanctions on Tehran, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Iranian negotiators are reportedly adamant that the U.N. repeal its sanctions before moving forward on any other portion of the deal. But negotiators from the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France and Germany have said the sanctions should be phased out as Tehran agrees to ramp down its nuclear program. 

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“It’s a deal-breaker,” a senior European diplomat told the paper about Iran’s position.

“There’s no way that we would give up on that.”

The official added that it would take more than a year for inspectors to certify an Iranian nuclear drawdown, meaning sanctions would be decreased on a similar schedule.

While the two sides are stuck on the matter of U.N. sanctions, there’s reportedly an agreement over the cessation of U.S. and European Union sanctions in the weeks after an agreement. The two sides have until March 31 to agree on a framework for a deal.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryChina emitted more greenhouse gasses than US, developed world combined in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process| EPA official directs agency to ramp up enforcement in overburdened communities | Meet Flint prosecutor Kym Worthy Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process MORE and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have met all week ahead of the deadline, but the European diplomat questioned whether an agreement is possible.

“I don’t think we have made sufficient progress,” the official said.

“A lot of issues remain on the table.” 

Congressional Republicans continue to deride the potential deal for its lack of congressional input. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won MORE (R-S.C.) warned that Congress would fight back if the U.N. Security Council tried to lift the body’s sanctions.

“Twenty-two percent of the funding for the United Nations comes from the American taxpayer and I’m in charge of that account,” he said Thursday on Fox News’s “On the Record.”

“If they go to the U.N. Security council and the U.S. Security council lifts all sanctions before we ever get a chance to look at this deal, absolutely I would suspend funding the United Nations, because I don't think your money should go to an organization that irresponsible.”

Senators are also expected to begin discussing new sanctions on Iran if the parties don’t come to agreement by the deadline.  

The Associated Press has reported that a draft version of the deal would limit Iran to 6,000 centrifuges, 60 percent of its current capacity. The AP added that negotiators had sought to cap the number of centrifuges between 500 and 1,500.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki shot down those reports during her Thursday press briefing.

“The reports are inaccurate; there’s no draft document being circulated,” she said.

“The fundamental framework issues are still under comprehensive discussion.”

The deadline is already the result of an extension that became necessary last November, when diplomats couldn’t come to terms on an agreement.