A new wrinkle threatens to foil the nuclear deal with Iran that US President Barack Obama has been earnestly pushing for, as the German ambassador to the US said Tuesday his nation will not lift sanctions on the Islamic regime until the end of 2015.
Iran has demanded that sanctions against it be lifted immediately with the sealing of a final agreement, and with the deadline for such a deal coming up on June 30, the German move may signal an insurmountable impasse in talks.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington on Tuesday, German Ambassador to the US Peter Wittig announced that sanctions will not be lifted until the end of the year – and that would be in the best-case scenario.
Wittig said that even if a deal is sealed, the easing of sanctions will be gradual, and it will also take time for Iran to adopt the limitations on its nuclear program as stipulated by the deal.
Aside from Germany and likely other European nations, Canada and individual states in America are also poised to delay easing their sanctions as well, a facet that would further undermine the Iranian insistence that all sanctions be lifted immediately.
Sanctions are not the only point of controversy between Iran and world powers regarding the deal; the US has said Iran will stop using advanced centrifuges, while top Iranian officials said they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached.
Even Obama has admitted that as a result of the deal, Iran will be able to reach a "zero" breakout time by 2028, meaning it could produce nuclear weapons immediately whenever it wanted to. With advanced centrifuges running, instead of 2028 that timeframe would be cut to mere weeks.
"Fuzzy" end to deal and sanctions
At the Atlantic Council think tank the French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud, as well as the UK Ambassador to the US Peter Westmacott also addressed the audience while speaking about the European perspective on the Iran deal.
Araud echoed the German ambassador's comments, saying there may be a "fuzzy" end to the nuclear talks with Iran even if an agreement is reached.
He explained that finalizing technicalities regarding implementation of the deal could take more time after the deal was signed.
Westmacott for his part warned that the sanctions regime against Iran is in danger of falling apart, unless the failure of nuclear talks is seen as "incontrovertibly" Iran's fault.
"A number of countries" already "don’t respect" the sanctions and are buying oil from Iran despite the sanctions, he reported.
Wittig also warned that "if diplomacy fails, then the sanctions regime might unravel."
However, Araud of France disagreed with his colleagues, saying that the sanctions will stay in place because only a unanimous decision by the European Union (EU) would be able to remove them.