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.
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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs