Thursday 18 December 2014

Extension for Iran nuclear talks

Published 19/07/2014 | 02:13

European foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton announces the extension of Iran nuclear talks (AP)
European foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton announces the extension of Iran nuclear talks (AP)

Iran and six world powers have extended nuclear talks until November 24, acknowledging that their differences were too big to reach a deal by the Sunday informal deadline.

The decision was expected, with much of yesterday spent on debating not obstacles standing in the way of an agreement, but how long the add-on talks should go on and other related details.

"We have made tangible process on some of the issues," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who co-ordinated the talks. But she warned of "significant gaps on some core issues which will require more time and effort".

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif read the same statement in Farsi. Neither took questions.

US secretary of state John Kerry, who flew to Vienna a week ago to try and advance the talks, also spoke of "tangible progress" in a statement released in Washington, while noting substantial differences on some issues.

He said stretching out the talks for four more months "is warranted by the progress we've made and the path forward we can envision".

But Republican congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, said he did not see the extension as progress.

"It looks like the Iranians won extra time with a good cop-bad cop routine," he said.

Since the current phase of talks began early this year, the biggest obstacle has been uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the core of a nuclear warhead.

Iran says it does not want such weapons but demands it be allowed to keep its present programme. The United States and its Western allies want deep cuts.

Neither Mr Zarif nor Baroness Ashton named a time or venue for the next meetings saying only they would be held in "coming weeks".

Press Association

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