|Iran, major powers have made enough progress to extend nuclear talks: Zarif||
TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that Iran and the major powers have made enough progress in their ongoing talks in Vienna to be able to extend the negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear deal.
The talks are meant to build on an interim nuclear deal Iran and the major powers clinched in Geneva last November to reach a long-term agreement to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, which has dragged on for over a decade.
Under the Geneva deal, Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) set a July 20 deadline to seal a deal. The talks on a final deal can be extended as long as six months if the two sides agree.
“Enough progress has been made in the talks to continue diplomacy after July 20. The final deadline for the talks is November 25,” Zarif said in a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday.
He also said that Tehran’s nuclear program is completely peaceful, adding that Iran is ready to address all reasonable concerns over its nuclear work.
Iran is ready to provide guarantees that its nuclear activities are peaceful, he said.
“We continue our work on the belief that there will be a way to move forward,” he said.
“We have shown that we are serious in the talks.”
He went on to say that the talks have reached a point that there is enough transparency, adding that an agreement can be reached as soon as the required political decisions are made.
“It is necessary that a serious political decision is made,” he said.
In addition, Zarif said that now is the best time to reach a settlement.
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said that the dispute over the number of centrifuges that Iran would be allowed to retain under a final deal is unnecessary because there are other ways to ensure that Iran’s nuclear activities are meant for peaceful purposes.
According to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday Tehran must reduce its capacity to make nuclear fuel if it wants to secure a long-term deal with the six major powers
“We have made it crystal clear that the 19,000 (centrifuges) that are currently part of their program is too many,” Kerry told reporters after three days of talks with Zarif.
In a New York Times interview, Zarif floated the idea of Tehran keeping its enrichment program at current levels for a few years before expanding it.
Kerry said that Iran’s proposals so far have been insufficient, though he added, “We’ve made progress.”
“It is clear we still have more work to do and our team will continue to work very hard to try to reach a comprehensive agreement that resolves the international community’s concern,” he said.
“I am returning to Washington today to consult with President (Barack) Obama and leaders in Congress over the coming days about our prospects for a comprehensive agreement, as well as a path forward if we do not achieve on July 20, including whether or not more time is needed,” he said.
A senior U.S. official said on Saturday that an extension of the talks would be difficult to consider without first seeing “significant progress on key issues.”
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