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US: Iran Nuclear Deal by Deadline Difficult but Possible

  • VOA News

FILE - A worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for deputy secretary of state says it will be difficult, but not impossible, to reach a nuclear deal with Iran before a Monday deadline.

Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said at his congressional nomination hearing Wednesday that it is up to Iran to take steps to convince the U.S. and its allies that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. Blinken said that so far, "we are not there."

Monday is the deadline for the so-called P5 plus 1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany) to reach agreement with Iran to curb its uranium enrichment. In exchange, Western sanctions on Iran would be lifted.

Senior diplomats met in Vienna Wednesday while Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in London with Oman's foreign minister, Yusuf bin Alawi.

Kerry plans to be in Paris Thursday for a meeting with the French and Saudi foreign ministers.

The State Department says the U.S. is focused on the November 24 deadline and is not talking about an extension.

The United States has accused Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes, and says uranium enrichment is necessary to generate energy.