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WSJ: “New challenge” for Iran Talks, as Iranian Diplomats Put Off Addressing Military Dimensions of Nuclear Program

Iranian negotiators are trying to put off addressing suspected military dimensions related to the country’s atomic program until negotiations with the global P5+1 powers have substantially progressed, creating what the Wall Street Journal on Monday described as “a new challenge for efforts to reach a broad nuclear deal with six world powers.”

In an interview, Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Ravanchi said Iran stands by its pledge to address all Western concerns about its nuclear program eventually, insisting the country has “nothing to hide.” However he said his government doesn’t want to bring issues up front that should be dealt with at a later stage.

“We are prepared to implement the agreement reached with IAEA, but it takes some time,” Mr. Ravanchi said. “We understand that there are sensitive issues…of concern to the other side, but you have to take one step at a time. You should not rush.”

Iran’s obligations to clarify what are widely suspect to be military-related links to its nuclear program – ranging from detonations related to nuclear warheads to army involvement in Iranian uranium production – are codified in binding United Nations Security Council resolutions. Full cooperation with the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog on such dimensions has long been a core demand of the international community.

Obama administration officials who have defended the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) to journalists and lawmakers have repeatedly emphasized that Tehran will be held to those obligations. Iranian media covered Tehran’s newly declared position – under which discussions of those issues would be put off until some time in the future – under the headline “Iran will address all Western concerns about its nuclear program: negotiator.”

Observers fear that the Islamic Republic is positioning itself to extend negotiations and thereby increase the West’s investment in the talks, before ultimately refusing to genuinely meet its obligations regarding transparency. One scenario has Iran making limited concessions regarding future nuclear work, and then functionally daring the West to scuttle a settlement over its refusal to disclose its past military-related programs.

[Photo: NTDTV / YouTube]