Iran and six powers held nuclear talks for a second day Wednesday as the commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guards warned against damaging “national pride” but predicted a “victorious” outcome.
Speaking in Iran, Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned against crossing “red lines” that would damage the country’s pride.
He has previously indicated his opposition to any dismantling of nuclear facilities, even though the chief US negotiator, Wendy Shermann, said Iran “does not need” the Fordo site or a new heavy-water reactor at Arak.
Jafari said that Iran “will be victorious either way” in the talks.
Michael Mann, spokesman for the powers’ lead negotiator and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the talks in Vienna were “substantive” and “useful”.
He declined to comment, however, on the substance of the meetings between Iran with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, nor on whether they would continue on Thursday as scheduled, nor on a date for the next round.
Ashton is due to chair a meeting in Brussels on Thursday afternoon of EU foreign ministers on the situation on Ukraine. It was unclear if this meant the Iran talks must finish by then.
The parties in Vienna hope to create a lasting accord out of the landmark interim deal struck in November, under which Iran agreed to freeze certain nuclear activities for six months.
In exchange, the Western governments offered minor relief from a range of punishing sanctions that have cost Iran up to $8 billion per month in lost oil revenues, as well as a promise of no new sanctions.
The six-month deal expires on July 20 but can be extended, with the parties aiming to conclude negotiations and implement the final “comprehensive” deal by November.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said late Tuesday that the talks had “started on the right track”.
“We have a shared objective, and that is for Iran to have a nuclear programme that is exclusively peaceful,” he said from Vienna in a webcast discussion with Denver University’s Center for Middle East Studies.
He said a deal was “totally achievable” but would take more than “one or two sittings” and would require “some innovation and some forward thinking”.
Others have been considerably more circumspect about the prospects for a deal that satisfies hardliners on both sides, as well as other countries such as Israel, after a decade of failed initiatives and rising tensions.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that this effort would “go nowhere” but that he was not against trying.
The aim of the final deal would be for Iran to retain its civilian nuclear programme, but likely on a reduced scale and with enhanced oversight in order to ensure a dash for nuclear weapons is all but impossible.
In exchange for a full lifting of sanctions, the powers want Iran’s nuclear programme to be within what the Geneva deal called “mutually agreed parameters consistent with (Iran’s) practical needs” and for a “long-term duration”.
Iran has long been suspected of seeking atomic weapons, despite its denials, and the US and Israel — the latter assumed to have a large atomic arsenal itself — have never ruled out military action.
Further upping the ante between the two foes, Iran’s foreign ministry on Wednesday blamed a double suicide car bombing near an Iranian cultural centre in Beirut that killed four people on Israeli “agents”.
Former Trump administration official refers to a renowned Black scholar as ‘some criminal’
President Donald Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to renowned Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "some criminal" in an interview with The New York Times Magazine.
Sessions, one of Trump's earliest supporters who was later fired after years of attacks from the president, is currently attempting to reclaim his old Senate seat in Alabama. Sessions has desperately tried to tout his Trumpist credentials on the campaign trail, even as the president has waged a campaign aimed at sabotaging his primary bid.
Miami-Dade cop relieved of duty after punching irate woman at Florida airport
A bad situation turned worse, after a woman missed her flight at Miami International Airport. When police were called, things got even worse.
According to the Miami Herald, body-camera footage, which surfaced Wednesday evening, showed the officer hitting the woman yelling at him.
“You acting like you white when you really Black...what you want to do?” the woman without a mask says.
She then stepped very close to the officer, putting her face against his and that's when he struck her in the face.
Appellate Judge says Mary Trump’s tell-all book can be released
Yesterday, a judge paused Mary Trump's tell-all book on President Donald Trump and his family, but Wednesday evening, a New York appellate judge ruled that Simon & Schuster could move forward with releasing the book.
According to the New York Times, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man will be released in four weeks, on schedule.
"Justice Alan Scheinkman’s ruling, however, put off addressing a central aspect of the bitter spat about the manuscript that has been roiling all month in the Trump family: whether, by writing the book, Ms. Trump violated a confidentiality agreement put in place nearly 20 years ago after a struggle over the will of her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., Donald Trump’s father," the report said.