VIENNA — US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that he was still focused on reaching a nuclear deal with Iran by a July 20 deadline despite “real gaps” after two days of talks in Vienna.
“After my conversations here … it is clear that we still have more work to do. Our team will continue working very hard to try to reach a comprehensive agreement that resolves the international community’s concerns,” Kerry told a news conference.
“I am returning today to Washington to discuss with President (Barack) Obama and leaders in Congress over the coming days about the prospects for a comprehensive agreement as well as the path forward if we do not achieve one by July 20, including on the question of whether or not more time is warranted, based on the progress we have made and how things are going.”
He added: “With respect to the issue of July 20, yes, that is still on the table. We are still working and we are going to continue to work.
“I will, as I said, go back to Washington to discuss with the president … in order to assess where we think we think we are,” he said
He also said that Iran has to reduce the scope of its nuclear activities, in particular of uranium enrichment, a process for making nuclear fuel but also — when highly purified — in an atomic bomb.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the New York Times in an interview published Tuesday that he had proposed keeping Iran’s enrichment capacities at their current level for between three and seven years.
Washington however wants a dramatic cut in Iran’s enrichment capacity — and for a “double digit” number of years, US officials have said.