Iran, EU Exchange Criticism as Nuclear Deadline Nears

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Iranian and European officials accused each other of backing away from a nuclear agreement, as they met in Luxembourg ahead of next week’s deadline.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks with his German, British and French counterparts and European Union chief diplomat Federica Mogherini on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers’ conference.

Diplomats are seeking a final agreement by June 30, after reaching a preliminary accord in April. According to the U.S. fact sheet released at that time, Iran agreed to enact deep cuts in its nuclear capability for a decade and allow intrusive verifications by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Since then, conservative Iranian politicians have sought to challenge parts of the agreement. On Tuesday, parliament approved the details of a bill that calls for limits to international inspections, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. To become law, the bill must be approved by the Guardian Council.

“Iran needs to continue to negotiate constructively, rather than trying evasive maneuvers, in the last meters,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Iranians shouldn’t try to “add things or leave things out that had been agreed,” he said.

Zarif said all sides in the nuclear talks should avoid being “excessive” and display the “political will to accept the realities and move forward based on what we agreed in Lausanne.” If that happens, “there is a good possibility that we can finish this by the deadline or a few days after,” he told reporters.

The six global world powers negotiating Iran’s nuclear program -- China, France, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and Germany -- are facing the self-imposed deadline in talks aimed to place curbs on Iran in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif is expected to travel to Vienna for the final phase of talks later this week, as will U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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