TEHRAN — With a little more than two weeks before the deadline for a nuclear deal, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said Saturday that he expected relief from economic sanctions within a “couple of months” after an agreement with six world powers was signed.
Speaking at a news conference to recognize the second anniversary of his election, Mr. Rouhani dismissed reports that Iranians would have to wait more than a few months for the lifting of sanctions, which have crippled Iran’s economy. Asked whether the wait for relief could be as long as a year, he said, “A one-year difference is totally untrue.”
“It might be one month,” he added. “We are still discussing.”
In the coming weeks, Iran and the world powers — the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany — will intensify talks that can lead either to a breakthrough deal on Iran’s nuclear program or a more remote possibility, the end of negotiations. In recent months, Iranian leaders have insisted that if they need more time to reach a deal, the talks should continue beyond the June 30 deadline.
Mr. Rouhani echoed statements by other Iranian leaders hinting that the deadline might not be met. “We will not waste time, but we should also not restrict ourselves to a specific deadline,” he said.
The pace of sanctions relief is a sticking point. The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on any nuclear deal, has demanded that all sanctions be lifted on the day the agreement is signed. Mr. Rouhani’s timetable would allow the United States, the European Union and the United Nations to wait to lift their sanctions until the day the deal takes effect. The United States and its negotiating partners want the sanctions lifted piecemeal, as Iran meets its obligations under the deal.
Mr. Rouhani also said Iran wanted the deal to be approved by the United Nations Security Council, as a hedge against a nullification move by a future leader of a negotiating country.
Mr. Rouhani said Iran was willing to allow more inspections of its nuclear facilities by signing an extension to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is called the “Additional Protocol.” But, he said, “One thing is for certain: Iran will not allow its secrets to fall into the hands of others under the guise of implementing the protocol.”
Mr. Rouhani was twice asked about the fate of Jason Rezaian, a correspondent for The Washington Post who is on trial on charges that include espionage and spreading propaganda, but did not comment on the case.
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(via NY Times)