Iranian and Western diplomats said nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will be extended until July 1, 2015. The diplomats spoke in Vienna on the final day of the group's self-imposed, year-long period to agree on a comprehensive deal to ensure Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
Waiting for results
(cartoon by Ali Jahanshahi, Shargh daily)
They said they will work toward a framework agreement by March 1, outlining progress made and identifying points still be to be resolved. A final deal would be reached by July 1.
Talks are expected to resume before the end of this year, though it was not clear when or where they would be held. This would be the second extension, after an original, six-month deadline expired in July.
Diplomats said some progress has been made, but "significant gaps" remained on key issues, including the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to operate as well as the levels of uranium enrichment it could undertake, and sanctions relief.
Iranian state media IRNA said President Hassan Rouhani would address the nation later Monday, in a speech coinciding with the end of the Vienna talks.
From left: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, former E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 23, 2014.
The so-called P5+1 talks, which includes representatives from Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany, are aimed at ensuring Iran is not developing nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting sanctions that have hurt the country's economy.
Iran has insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes such as medical research and generating power.
Meanwhile, an interim nuclear agreement world powers struck with Iran in late 2013 will remain in place while nuclear talks continue, with Iran receiving around $700 million per month in frozen assets, Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday.
Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the likelihood that Iran and six world powers would fail to reach a nuclear agreement on Monday.
“No deal is better than a bad deal. The deal that Iran was pushing for was terrible. A deal would have left Iran with the ability to enrich uranium for an atom bomb while removing the sanctions,” Netanyahu told the BBC, according to a video excerpt of the interview provided by the prime minister's office.
“The right deal that is needed is to dismantle Iran's capacity to make atomic bombs and only then dismantle the sanctions. Since that's not in the offing, this result is better, a lot better,” he said, in response to news the Vienna talks were likely to be extended.
Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.
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