Iran’s Supreme Leader Holds Key to Nuclear Deal


iran-supreme-leader-ayatollah-ali-khameneiU.S. and European officials said nuclear negotiations were imperiled by deep uncertainty over whether Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would sign off on the necessary concessions for a deal. All parties to the talks have set March 31 as the date for concluding a framework agreement that would outline all the main elements of a deal constraining Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions. Technical discussions on a final, comprehensive agreement will continue through June.

But Western officials said there are signs Khamenei hasn’t empowered his negotiators to give ground on the remaining sticking points. These include the pace at which UN sanctions on Iran would be removed, the scope of Tehran’s future nuclear work, and the ability of international inspectors to access the country’s nuclear and military sites.

In speeches in recent days, Khamenei has fixated on the demand that UN sanctions be removed at the beginning of any agreement. Earlier this month, Khamenei said: “Removal of sanctions will happen immediately when the deal is reached…otherwise, we will not agree.”

{Andy Newscenter}