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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs