U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says the chances of completing a nuclear deal with Iran are less than half, but there's still a chance.
At a Mideast forum Saturday at Washington's Brookings Institution, Biden repeated the White House vow that it will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, adding that there can be no discussion on that point.
He noted that Iran had shown some flexibility in talks so far because Western sanctions imposed in response to its nuclear program have done significant damage to the Iranian economy.
But he said new sanctions at this time, as some in Congress are pushing, would produce "the worst of all worlds." The vice president said new sanctions would break up the coalition pressuring Iran and give negotiators less leverage with which to reach a peaceful resolution.
Iran and diplomats from the P5+1 nations (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States ) extended nuclear talks for seven months after a November 24 deadline for an agreement was not met.
Biden said an diplomatic agreement that puts a verifiable constraint on Iran's nuclear program is the best way to ensure Israel and the Mideast will never be menaced by a nuclear-armed Iran.
The United States has long accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has consistently denied the accusation, saying its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful civilian energy purposes.