Iran nuclear deal could be agreed very soon: EU official

The official said a deal was necessary as Iran’s sensitive uranium enrichment program was moving ahead quickly. Iran has always denied it is seeking nuclear weapons.

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BRUSSELS: A senior European Union official said on Friday that a US-Iranian deal to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement was close but success depended on the political will of those involved.

“I expect an agreement in the coming week, the coming two weeks or so,” the EU official said. “I think we have now on the table text that is very, very close to what is going to be the final agreement,” the official said.

Reuters reported on Feb. 17 details of a possible deal negotiated by envoys from Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, and the United States.

“Most of the issues are already agreed. But as a principle in this kind of negotiation, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So we still have…some questions, some of them rather political and difficult to agree,” the official said.

The official said a deal was necessary as Iran’s sensitive uranium enrichment program was moving ahead quickly. Iran has always denied it is seeking nuclear weapons.

“On the ground, they are advancing very much at a speed that is not compatible with the long-term survival of the JCPOA,” the official said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers is formally titled. Meanwhile,

Syrian authorities have grown more skilled at manipulating international aid during 11 years of conflict, according to a newly published report by the Center for Strategic and International Study, an independent think tank in Washington.

It said that the regime of Syrian President Basher Assad has turned billions of dollars in foreign assistance, intended to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, into a lasting “profit center” used to reward loyalists and punish the opposition.

The 70-page report, titled Rescuing Aid in Syria, states that those who are benefiting from international aid to the country are the same people who created the humanitarian crisis in the first place. It is based on interviews with 130 UN officials, aid workers, analysts, diplomats, field monitors and mediators involved in the Syrian conflict.

They said the Assad regime has tightened its grip on aid agencies in a number of ways, including through visa approvals, and is diverting assistance for its own gain in the areas it controls and restricting international access to areas it does not.

It also threatens, tortures and arbitrarily detains Syrian aid staff and withholds basic goods and services, including food and clean water, from millions of Syrians in rebel-held areas as a tactic of war, the report added.

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