Nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 have been extended again by three extra days, with a new deadline set for Friday this week. The extension follows seven days of prolonged talks after the failure to meet the original target of reaching an agreement by June 30th.
Speaking of the talks, EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, announced that an agreement “is still possible even if we are now getting into a difficult time”.
U.S. State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, said that the extension is “to allow for the additional time to negotiate,” and that they are “taking the necessary technical steps”. She underlined that the parties had “made substantial progress in every area…but this work is highly technical”.
At the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry spoke to journalists and said that the discussions “could go either way.” Kerry also stated that “President Obama has always said we’ll be prepared to walk away”, but that they “want to get an agreement.”
Last week, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that he did not think “we are at any kind of breakthrough moment yet”, and urged for more flexibility from Iran. The Foreign Secretary stated that there were “a number of different areas where we still have major differences of interpretation in detailing what was agreed at Lausanne”.
There have been continued disagreements on core elements of the emerging agreement, including Iran’s use of advanced centrifuges, the pace of which sanctions will be lifted, and the access that international inspectors will have to Iran’s nuclear facilities, especially military sites.
Two weeks ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei laid out a series of red lines for an agreement to be reached, rejecting key terms of a proposed nuclear deal, and ruling out freezing sensitive nuclear Research and Development for 10-12 years ahead.
Talks with Tehran have been held for over a decade, but this attempt is the closest to obtaining an agreement.