Nuclear Accord Very Likely

Nuclear Accord  Very Likely Nuclear Accord  Very Likely

Iran is optimistic that it can reach a final nuclear deal with world powers, the foreign minister said in an excerpt of an interview with Germany's Spiegel magazine published on Friday.

"An agreement is very likely -- provided that our negotiation partners mean it seriously," Mohammad Javad Zarif told Der Spiegel, Reuters reported.

Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China reached a tentative framework deal on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland. They have a June 30 deadline to arrive at a comprehensive agreement.

Zarif criticized Saudi Arabia, which has voiced concern that a nuclear deal could embolden Iran and harm its security.

"Some people in the region are evidently panicking," he said, adding there was no reason to do so. "We don't want to dominate the region. We are happy with our size and geography," he told the magazine.

*** Prepared for All Scenarios

Iran is prepared for "all scenarios" in the nuclear talks with world powers, its top nuclear negotiator said on Friday when asked what would happen if no final deal was reached by July.

Diplomats worked in Vienna this week to iron out details of a deal without announcing any breakthrough. The talks concluded on Friday.

"Even if I'm optimistic, that doesn't mean that any deal is acceptable. All parties want a good deal, and for Iran it's only a good deal if our legitimate rights are respected and sanctions are finished," top negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Austrian news agency APA, Reuters reported.

"We have thought of all possibilities and, accordingly, are prepared for all scenarios," he said.

Iran has said sanctions must be rescinded as soon as any final deal is signed. The United States wants a gradual lifting of restrictions tied to verified compliance by Iran with its end of the deal, a big sticking point left unresolved so far.

A framework accord reached last month also did not spell out all details about the future of Iran's nuclear research and development program, the exact scope of the UN nuclear watchdog's monitoring regime, and what kind of uranium stockpile Tehran will be allowed to keep.

"We believe that solving the technical components won't be difficult if there is veritable political will. If that is the case, the final deal can very likely be reached before the deadline," Araqchi said.

On Thursday, he held talks with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano. The IAEA is seeking access to Iranian military sites, such as Parchin near Tehran, as part of its investigation into Tehran's nuclear activities.

Iran is extremely reluctant to allow atomic inspectors access to military sites.

Deputy-level talks between Iran and the six powers will continue next week, Araqchi said.