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The six world powers want Iran to commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear development work as part of a landmark atomic deal they aim to reach by June 30. But: “Freezing Iran’s research and development (R&D) for a long time like 10 or 12 years is not acceptable,” Ayatollah Khameini said in a speech broadcast live Tuesday.
The world powers are offering in exchange relief from sanctions that have crippled the oil exporter’s economy. Disputes over how much transparency Iran should offer to ease suspicions that it’s covertly sought to develop nuclear bombs and the timing and pace of relief from sanctions on Tehran, have been two major sticking points to the final deal.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to investigate Western allegations that Iran has been working on designing a nuclear warhead. Iran says that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it’s working with the IAEA to clear up any suspicions. Khameini said: “Inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines.” Complicating things, Iran’s parliament passed a bill Tuesday banning access for IAEA inspectors to its military sites and scientists. The IAEA has complained of lack of access.
A senior French official said Tuesday that the verification procedures and the authorization to access the military sites were the “main difficulty” to clinch a deal. Khameini accused the U.S. of wanting to wipe out Iran’s nuclear industry. “America is after destroying our nuclear industry altogether,” he said.