Iran nuclear talks extended

Iran nuclear talks extended

-Reuters

Iran and six powers have failed for a second time this year to resolve their 12-year dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, and have given themselves seven more months to overcome the deadlock.

Western officials said they were aiming to secure an agreement on the substance of a final accord by March but that more time would be needed to reach a consensus on the all-important technical details.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “many gaps were narrowed and our positions with the other side got closer” at the Vienna talks, state TV quoted him as saying.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a more sombre assessment, saying “real and substantial progress had been made but adding that “some significant points of disagreement” remained.

“These talks are not going to get easier just because we extend them. They’re tough. They’ve been tough. And they’re going to stay tough,” he told reporters.

Under an interim deal reached by the six powers and Iran a year ago in Geneva, Tehran halted higher level uranium enrichment in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions which have badly hurt its economy, including access to some frozen oil revenues abroad.

Yesterday marked the second self-imposed deadline for a final settlement to have passed without any deal.

“We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters, adding that the target date had been extended to June 30, 2015.

Tehran has repeatedly dismissed Western fears that its nuclear program might have military aims, saying it is entirely peaceful.

However, the six powers – the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain – want to cut back Iran’s uranium enrichment program to lengthen the time it would need to build a bomb.

Mr Hammond said the expectation was that Iran would continue to refrain from sensitive atomic activity. There was a clear target to reach a “headline agreement” of substance within the next three months and talks would resume next month, he said.

It is unclear where next month’s talks will take place, he said, noting that during the extension period, Tehran will be able to continue to access around $700 million per month in sanctions relief.

A source close to the talks said Vienna and Oman were possible venues for next month’s discussions.

An Iranian official confirmed the extension, as did Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who echoed Mr Kerry’s comments about “substantial progress.”

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, showed that Iran had reduced its stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas and taken other action to comply with last year’s interim agreement with world powers.

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Amy Whittaker
Amy Whittaker 1402 posts

Amy joined the NRN team in August 2011, before graduating from a B of Arts (Communication-Journalism)/B of Sports Studies from Charles Sturt University in December 2011.

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