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Deadline for Iran Nuclear Talks Pushed Back to July 7

Deadline for Iran Nuclear Talks Pushed Back to July 7

Diplomats for Iran and world powers agreed Tuesday to extend the deadline for reaching an accord on Tehran’s nuclear program until July 7, hours before an original deadline was set to expire.

An interim accord that imposed a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program will remain in place for an additional week “to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution … on the Iran nuclear issue,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in an email to Foreign Policy.

Negotiators had said for several days that they did not expect to meet the Tuesday deadline. But for Washington, the crucial deadline is July 9.

If an agreement is clinched before then, Congress will have 30 days to review it. But if a deal is hammered out after that date, the review period for lawmakers would stretch to 60 days, and officials worry that opponents could have enough time to rally opposition to the accord.

The talks in Vienna entered a pivotal final stage Tuesday after Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif held consultations with leaders in Tehran. Zarif met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry upon his return to Vienna and voiced cautious optimism that an agreement could be reached.

“Iranian officials have all noted that we are ready for rational and logical negotiations and give and take,” he said, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

Amid concerns among world powers that Iran may try to retreat from a framework deal worked out in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April, Zarif said “a solution will be possible” based on the interim accord.

After the deadline extension was announced, President Barack Obama said there remained “deep seated disagreements and divisions.”

“There’s still some hard negotiations to take place. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Iranians,” Obama said during a joint news conference at the White House with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

The goal of the negotiations was not to rely on trust but to create verifiable mechanisms where “we cut off all the various pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Critics of the talks have accused Obama of agreeing to many concessions but he warned: “I will walk away from the negotiations if, in fact, it’s a bad deal.”

And he said if the regime for inspections of Iranian nuclear sites was lacking, “we’re not going to get a deal.”

The negotiations between Tehran and major powers are aimed at reaching a deal that would curtail Iran’s nuclear program for a decade in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions. But the two sides are still haggling over the scale of future U.N. inspections of nuclear sites and how fast sanctions would be eased.

This story has been updated to include comments from President Barack Obama.

Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images