Iran, Powers to Meet Next Week on Carrying Out Nuclear Deal

(Reuters) -

Envoys of Iran and six world powers will meet next week to start working out steps to implement a deal under which Tehran is to curb its nuclear program in return for some respite from sanctions, a top Iranian negotiator said.

The landmark November 24 interim accord between the Islamic Republic and the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain is seen as a first step towards resolving a decade-old dispute that has stirred fears of a new Middle East war.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted by the state-run news agency Fars as saying in an interview that Tehran was expecting to hear from senior European Union diplomat Helga Schmid soon.

“Schmid is supposed to call us this week and it’s likely our experts will negotiate in the coming week in Geneva or Vienna to find a mechanism for implementation,” he said.

But, underlining years of mutual distrust, Araqchi said the deal was not legally binding and Iran had the right to undo it if the powers failed to hold up their end of the bargain.

A senior Western diplomat described the implementation phase of the deal as “extremely complex and difficult.”

Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency had said on Friday that the implementation phase was expected to start by early January, with Western diplomats saying a start to sanctions relief would hinge on verification by U.N. inspectors that Iran was fulfilling its side of the deal.