Iran willing to extend nuclear talks past deadline

Tehran ‘will not be bound by schedule’ if accord is not finalized by June 30, negotiator says

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube/PressTV)
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube/PressTV)

TEHRAN, Iran — Talks between Iran and world powers aimed at finalizing a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program could go beyond a June 30 deadline, a senior Iranian negotiator said Wednesday.

“We are not at the point where we can say that negotiations will be completed quickly — they will continue until the deadline and could continue beyond that,” Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Araqchi has been attending a fresh round of talks between Iranian representatives and officials from the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany — which got under way in Vienna on Tuesday.

The two sides signed a framework agreement on April 2 and aim to seal a final deal by the end of next month to prevent Iran from developing an atomic bomb, in exchange for an easing of crippling economic sanctions.

“We are not bound by the schedule. We are trying to have a good agreement with all the details meeting our expectations,” Araqchi said, describing the efforts to draw up a final text as “hard work.”

Iranian media quoted deputy oil minister Amirhossein Zamani-Nia as saying on Monday that 20 pages of the text had been written “but there are still disagreements and 30 percent of the work remains to be done.”

A similar report last week quoting an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman noted that a diplomatic timetable should not get in the way of a “good agreement.”

Israel has warned that the deal in its current form is insufficient and may still enable Iran to to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear project will be used for peaceful purposes only.

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