Iran and Europeans willing to work past June 30 target date; Kerry and Zarif to meet Saturday in Geneva
The US State Department is not planning on extending nuclear talks past its June 30 deadline, a spokesman said Wednesday.
European and Iranian officials have suggested the talks may require more time.
However, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the US isn’t considering an extension and that the goal remains to make progress toward an agreement by the end of June deadline.
“We’re not contemplating any extension beyond June 30,” Rathke told reporters Wednesday.
Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi, quoted by state news agency IRNA, said Wednesday the two sides were “not bound by the schedule.”
“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,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold talks Saturday in Geneva.
Iran and world powers signed a framework accord on April 2 and aim to agree on a final deal by the end of June to prevent Iran from developing an atomic bomb, in exchange for an easing of crippling economic sanctions.
Meanwhile, the level of international access to Iranian military sites has emerged as a potential deal breaker, with Iran’s supreme leader staunchly opposed, and France insistent.
Iranian hardliners have accused negotiators of having accepted demands for international inspections of Iran’s military sites, a position which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ruled out.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned on Wednesday that France would oppose a final nuclear accord unless it allowed inspections of military sites.
An agreement “will not be accepted by France if it is not clear that verifications can be made at all Iranian facilities, including military sites,” Fabius told parliament.
Also Wednesday, Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN’s atomic watchdog, said Iran had agreed to implementing the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that allows for snap inspections.
“When we find inconsistency or when we have doubts, we can request access to the undeclared location for example, and this could include military sites,” the Japanese diplomat told AFP.
“Some consideration is needed because of the sensitiveness of the site, but the International Atomic Energy Agency has the right to request access at all locations, including military ones.”
Zarif has said the protocol allows “some access” but not inspections of military sites, in order to protect national “military or economic secrets”