Tense Iran nu­clear talks to miss dead­line as na­tions fail to agree


Iran and ma­jor pow­ers ad­mit­ted dur­ing tense talks Sun­day that their fast-loom­ing dead­line to nail down a his­toric nu­clear deal would be missed as they strug­gled to over­come ma­jor dif­fer­ences.

Of­fi­cials in Vi­enna said how­ever that Tues­day’s tar­get date would only be missed by a few days, with Iran say­ing there was “no de­sire or dis­cus­sion yet” on a longer ex­ten­sion.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif mean­while was set to re­turn to Tehran for con­sul­ta­tions, of­fi­cials said, although the U.S. said this was not a mat­ter of con­cern.

Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond said as he joined the talks with U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and other for- eign min­is­ters that the six pow­ers were pre­pared to walk away if needed.

“We still have very big chal­lenges if we are go­ing to be able to get this deal done,” Ham­mond told re­porters.

“No deal is bet­ter than a bad deal. There are red lines that we can­not cross and some very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions and tough choices are go­ing to have to be made by all of us,” Ham­mond said.

Ear­lier Sun­day, EU for­eign min­is­ter Fed­er­ica Mogherini said “po­lit­i­cal will” was still needed to get a deal af­ter al­most two years of in­tense diplo­matic ef­forts to re­solve the 13-year-old stand­off.

“It is go­ing to be tough, it has al­ways been tough but not im­pos­si­ble,” Mogherini told re­porters.

Iran and the P5+1 group — the United King­dom, the PRC, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the United States — are seek­ing to flesh out the fi­nal de­tails of a ac­cord that builds on a frame­work deal reached in Lausanne in April.

Zarif’s deputy Ab­bas Araghchi sug­gested parts of that frame­work no longer ap­plied be­cause other coun­tries had changed their po­si­tions.

“Some of the so­lu­tions found in Lausanne no longer work, be­cause af­ter Lausanne cer­tain coun­tries within the P5+1 made dec­la­ra­tions ... and we see a change in their po­si­tion which com­pli­cates the task,” he told AlAlam tele­vi­sion.

Ne­tanyahu Warn­ing

It is hoped a deal would end a stand­off dat­ing back to 2002 which has threat­ened to es­ca­late into war and poi­soned the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic’s re­la­tions with the out­side world.

But it must stand up to in­tense scru­tiny by hard-lin­ers in Iran and the United States, as well as Iran’s re­gional ri­vals Is­rael, widely as­sumed to have nu­clear weapons it­self, and Saudi Ara­bia.

“It is still not too late to go back and in­sist on de­mands that will gen­uinely deny Iran the abil­ity to arm it­self with nu­clear weapons and pre­vent it from re­ceiv­ing vast sums to fi­nance its ag­gres­sion, its spread­ing out and the ter­ror­ist on­slaught that it is push­ing through­out the world,” Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Sun­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the Lausanne frame­work, Iran will slash the num­ber of its ura­nium en­rich­ment cen­trifuges, which can make nu­clear fuel but also the core of a bomb, shrink its ura­nium stock­pile and change the de­sign of the Arak re­ac­tor.

In re­turn it is seek­ing a lift­ing of a com­pli­cated web of EU, U.S. and U.N. sanc­tions which have choked its econ­omy and lim­ited ac­cess to world oil mar­kets.

But tough re­main­ing is­sues in­clude the tim­ing and pace of this sanc­tions re­lief and U.N. ac­cess to Ira­nian mil­i­tary bases, some­thing which Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, on Tues­day again ruled out.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank- Wal­ter Stein­meier told the Welt am Son­ntag news­pa­per ahead of his ar­rival in Vi­enna that “if there is no clar­ity on this ( in­spec­tions of mil­i­tary sites), there will be no deal.”

French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius echoed this on Satur­day, call­ing in­spec­tions of mil­i­tary sites one of three key con­di­tions for a deal that he said were “not yet ac­cepted by all par­ties.”

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