News / Middle East

    Iran: Six-month Extension of Nuclear Talks May Be Necessary

    FILE - A bicyclist passes the nuclear power plant just outside Bushehr, Iran, Oct. 26, 2010.
    FILE - A bicyclist passes the nuclear power plant just outside Bushehr, Iran, Oct. 26, 2010.
    Reuters
    Iran's talks with global powers on curbing its nuclear program in exchange for an end to sanctions could be extended for another six months if no deal is reached by a July 20 deadline, a senior Iranian official said on Monday.

    U.S. and Iranian officials held talks in Geneva on Monday to tackle ways of breaking a deadlock which has raised the likelihood that the deadline will lapse without a deal meant to head off the risk of a Middle East war over the nuclear issue.

    The four-month-old round of negotiations ran into difficulty last month with each side accusing the other of making unrealistic demands, sowing doubt about prospects for a breakthrough next month.

    Western officials say Iran wants to maintain a uranium enrichment capability far beyond what is suitable for civilian nuclear power stations. Iran says it wants to avoid reliance on foreign suppliers of fuel for planned nuclear reactors and rejects Western allegations it seeks the capability to make nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful energy program.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi spoke of a possible extension to the talks in remarks in Geneva to Iranian media on the sidelines of meetings with senior U.S. officials and the European Union's deputy chief negotiator.

    "We hope to reach a final agreement [by July 20] but, if this doesn't happen, then we have no choice but to extend the Geneva deal for six more months while we continue negotiations," Araqchi was quoted as saying by Iran's state news agency IRNA."

    "It's still too early to judge whether an extension will be needed. This hope still exists that we will be able to reach a final agreement by the end of the six months on July 20."

    The No. 2 U.S. diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the primary U.S. negotiator with Iran, met an Iranian delegation led by Araqchi in Geneva on Thursday.

    U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the "wide-ranging" session ran for over five hours. "They will reconvene tomorrow morning and expect to meet all day," she told reporters in Washington, as part of consultations before the next round of Vienna negotiations scheduled for June 16-20.

    Araqchi, speaking later to the Iranian student news agency ISNA, described the atmosphere of Monday's talks with the Americans as "positive and constructive".

    "The Place We Want to Be"

    "We are at a critical juncture in the talks," Harf said. "We don't have very much time left. We think we've made progress during some rounds but as we said coming out of the last one we hadn't seen enough made, we hadn't seen enough realism.

    "Hopefully these discussions, like the other bilateral discussions people have, can help get us to the place we want to be," Harf said.

    A French diplomatic source said officials from France and Iran would meet on Wednesday to discuss the Vienna negotiations.

    And Russian officials will have talks with the Iranians in Rome on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Iranian media.

    "There are still gaps between Iran and the [six powers] in various issues and in order to bring our views closer, the other side must make tough decisions," Araqchi said.

    "The goal of these negotiations was to secure the Iranian nation's rights in the nuclear issue for peaceful purposes," he was quoted as saying. "We hope that we will be able to achieve this in the remaining time under the six-month nuclear deal."

    A second senior Iranian official, Takht Ravanchi, was quoted as saying that putting an end to sanctions was one of the issues discussed during the bilateral session with the Americans.

    Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China included the July deadline for a comprehensive accord in the text of an interim deal they struck on Nov. 24.

    That pact, under which Iran shelved some sensitive nuclear work in exchange for limited relief from sanctions, gave scope for a six-month extension if needed to reach a final settlement that would end sanctions and remove the threat of war.

    But Obama, to avoid open conflict with the U.S. Congress, where hawkish lawmakers prefer the stick - in the form of harsher sanctions - to the carrot in dealing with Iran, is expected to seek their approval to extend sanctions relief.

    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is coordinating the six powers' talks with Tehran. Her deputy Helga Schmid is currently in Geneva for the bilateral meetings with Iran.

    Separately, in a shift of tone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scepticism, a senior Israeli intelligence officer said on Monday that Iran was negotiating seriously on a deal to limit its contested nuclear activity.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora