US official: Iran's role in regional conflicts could jeopardize nuclear deal

Published April 30th, 2015 - 05:00 GMT

The United States wants India and other nations to hold off on actively engaging with Tehran until a final nuclear deal is reached, US Under Secretary Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.

"I would say 'hold your horses'. We are not quite to an agreement yet," Sherman said, referring to India and other buyers of Iranian oil that are looking to increase their trade ties with Tehran in the wake of the framework agreement reached earlier this month.

Diplomats are working to complete an April 2 framework agreement that would curb Iran's nuclear program and allay Western fears of the country building a nuclear weapon, in return for relief from international sanctions.

However, the United States has warned that tough negotiations lie ahead and there are no guarantees that a deal will be secured by a June 30 deadline.

"We understand that nobody wants to be last in line, everybody wants to be first in line, if the sanctions do get relieved," said Sherman, who has served as part of the American negotiating team in the long-running nuclear talks.

An Indian delegation recently visited Iran to resume talks regarding development rights of the Farzad B gas field and enhancing oil supplies if a deal is reached by the end of June.

A delegation-led by Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, visited China earlier this month seeking to improve relations with Chinese energy firms to begin oil and gas development projects and discuss oil sales.

Sherman said terrorism and human rights related sanctions against Iran would not be lifted even if a deal were to be achieved by June 30, indicating that Washington continues to be worried by Iran's influence across the Middle East.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels have secured control of parts of Yemen after seizing the capital Sanaa in September, while Tehran is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's army in Syria's civil war.

"We are still quite concerned about state-sponsored terrorism, we are quite concerned about human rights, we are quite concerned by what is happening in Yemen, what's happening in Syria, other parts of the world, Lebanon," she said.

Tehran denies any involvement in terrorism.

Sherman expressed hope that a nuclear deal could be reached with Iran by the end of June but explained that Tehran’s role in regional conflicts could jeopardize any deal.

"... There are a lot of details that have to be worked out, and there are a lot of events happening in the world, and those events could derail the agreement," said Sherman, who is on an official visit to India.

When asked if the economic sanctions would be lifted in one stroke after a deal, she said: "It will take some time, even after an agreement, for all the implementation to be worked out."

Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, considers the immediate lifting of sanctions necessary for any deal to be signed.

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