|Iran has not moved on key issues in nuclear talks: U.S.||
Iran has not moved on some key issues in nuclear talks with six world powers despite a looming deadline for a deal to end the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, Reuters quoted a U.S. official as saying on Saturday.
“We are still very far apart on some issues and obviously on enrichment capacity,” the senior U.S. administration official told reporters hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Vienna to join the talks with Iran.
The major powers want Iran to scale back its nuclear program. Iran says its activities are entirely peaceful and want sanctions lifted as soon as possible.
“We have made some progress but on some key issues Iran has not moved, from our perspective, from unworkable and inadequate positions that would not in fact assure us that their program is exclusively peaceful,” the U.S. official said.
In view of still wide differences in positions, some diplomats and experts believe the negotiations may need to be extended beyond a self-imposed July 20 deadline for an accord.
However, another senior U.S. official said it was difficult to consider extending the talks between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany without first seeing “significant progress on key issues.”
“If (a comprehensive agreement) can’t happen by July 20 both the administration and Congress are on the same page, which is that we obviously have to consider all of our options.
“But it would be hard to contemplate things like an extension without seeing significant progress on key issues and that is what we are going to be looking for here over the next few days,” the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The first U.S. official criticized recent comments from senior Iranian officials, who said this week Iran would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity.
“The numbers we have seen ... go far beyond their current program and we have been clear that in order to get an agreement that their current program would have to be significantly reduced,” the official added.
Another sticking point in the talks is the duration of any future limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran would like them to last only around five years, while the Western powers would like around 20 years.
The first senior U.S. official declined to give specifics, but said the United States wanted the limits to last for years, in the double digits.
The official also appeared to respond to comments from France’s foreign minister, who said this week that “differences in approach” between Russia and some of the other five world powers negotiating with Iran had appeared in the past few days.
“We remain very united,” the official said. “Everybody has their national positions of course.”
The French, British and German foreign ministers joined Kerry in the Austrian capital on Sunday. Moscow and Beijing sent senior diplomats to Vienna for the talks.
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