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No lifting of sanctions on Iran before end of 2015, says German diplomat

World powers and Iran might well miss their June target to reach a nuclear deal, France's ambassador in Washington has said. There will be no sanctions relief before the year is up, according to his German colleague.

French envoy to the United States Gerard Araud said on Tuesday that it was "very likely" that no comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran would be reached before the end of June. According to the diplomat, there was still much technical work to be done in the next five weeks, meaning that any deal could just be "fuzzy air."

The United States, Britain, Germany and France, alongside China and Russia, are working on a deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program and gradually ease international sanctions draining the Iranian economy. The relief would open up opportunities to Iran worth tens of billions of dollars.

The Western powers accuse Iran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.

Even if a deal were reached, there would be no relief of sanctions before the end of 2015, Germany's ambassador to the US, Peter Wittig, said. Wittig was speaking alongside his French and British counterparts at the Atlantic Council think-tank in Washington.

An end of an era

Alongside the nuclear row, there are many other open issues between Tehran and the West, including accusation of human rights abuses and support for the rebels in Yemen.

However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that an era of "violence and extremism" had ended.

"Despite a small minority that speak loudly, the vast majority of the population are in favor of peace, reconciliation and constructive agreement with the world," Rouhani said during a televised speech.

The ongoing negotiations on the nuclear issue have been approved by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They are also generally supported by the political class.

At the same time, Khamenei has vowed to not allow international inspection of Iran's military sites, with military leaders and ultraconservative political forces putting forward objections of their own.

"We are determined to solve our problems with the world through logic, reasoning and negotiation," Rouhani said, adding that "the strong nuclear negotiating team takes serious steps every day toward protecting the rights of the nation."

The two sides have already signed a framework agreement in early April, and the talks on finalizing the deal were set to continue on Tuesday in Vienna.

Air defense systems from Russia

After the framework deal, Tehran and Moscow reinitiated negotiations on Iran buying the advanced air defense S-300 missile system. The move has provoked sharp criticism by Israel and the United States.

While Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed that the negotiations "ended in success" and the delivery of the systems will be done "at the soonest opportunity possible," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that he "still can't say anything about the deadlines."

The contract, originally concluded in 2007, envisions the sale of five S-300 systems, with an estimated worth of $800 million (735 million euros).

dj/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa, Interfax)

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