Iran nuke talks set to bust another deadline

2015-07-09 19:13
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (AFP)

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (AFP) (AFP)

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Vienna - Negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme appeared set to burst through yet another deadline on Thursday amid persistent uncertainty and vague pronouncements from participants.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to deliver a statement on the status of the talks, but there was no indication he would announce either success or failure.

After a day of mixed public comments and contradictory reports, diplomats suggested that a breakthrough was not imminent and that the talks would bleed into at least Friday. That would break a midnight Thursday deadline in Washington for the Obama administration to submit an agreement to Congress if it wants to avoid an extended legislative review.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations. If the administration misses the Thursday target, the congressional review period will double from 30 to 60 days, possibly delaying the sanctions relief that the US would have to give to Iran under the terms of an agreement.

The current round of talks has already been extended twice since it started on June 27, as has an interim nuclear accord with Iran that these negotiations are meant to finalise. The interim deal was due to expire on June 30, then July 7 and then Friday. It would have to be renewed a third time if the talks go beyond Friday.

As the talks entered a 13th day in Vienna on Thursday with a flurry of closed-door meetings at the 19th-century palace hosting the negotiations, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said his nation was preparing for a "post-sanctions" era, suggesting that a deal may be in sight to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. His foreign minister, meanwhile, opined on Twitter that "with mutual respect, anything [is] possible".

Kerry said in a tweet that he and the others were "continuing to discuss difficult issues" and "working diligently to see if agreement possible".

Earlier, Kerry spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is in Russia and voiced optimism, saying he was prepared to return to Vienna.

"On the basis of the principles of gradualism and reciprocity, we have come close to a final agreement, it is within the bounds of the attainable," Lavrov said.

US President Barack Obama has said the United States would walk away from the negotiating table rather than sign a bad deal.

Read more on:    john kerry  |  hassan rouhani  |  iran  |  us  |  iran nuclear programme

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