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Iran and the six powers are searching for a preliminary agreement that would cap Iran’s nuclear capacity and open up the programme to U.N. inspectors. In exchange, they have offered phased, limited and reversible relief from sanctions. Iran, however, wants an early end to oil and banking sanctions.
Under discussion is a temporary deal entailing a freeze to higher-grade uranium enrichment - which Iran bills as fuel for a medical research reactor but which is also potential material for bombs - lasting about six months.
During that time, Iran and the six powers would negotiate a permanent agreement aimed at ensuring that none of Iran’s nuclear activities could be diverted towards bomb-making. Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
In an apparent attempt to keep hardliners on side, Rouhani spoke on Sunday of foreign policy “red lines” and vowed not to bow to threats.
Israel, which calls Iran’s nuclear drive a threat to its existence, condemned the interim deal as it would leave some of Iran’s nuclear fuel-making capacity intact, while giving Tehran respite from sanctions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served notice that Israel would not feel bound by such a deal, unmistakably reiterating a veiled threat to take military action if it deems diplomacy to have failed to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.