Iran Nuclear Talks Unlikely to Be Done by November, Zarif Says

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a final comprehensive nuclear accord with six world powers was unlikely to be completed by the Nov. 24 deadline.

“If there is a general agreement on the various issues of the nuclear negotiations, there is still a need to discuss the details,” Zarif said, according to a report by the parliamentary news service. “So, it is unlikely that we can reach a final decision before the end of the four-month span.”

Iran and the P5+1 group of countries that comprises China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. plus Germany failed to reach a deal after 16 days of talks in Vienna in July, and instead extended an interim agreement until Nov. 24. Iranian and U.S. negotiators met on Aug. 7 to add some momentum to the proceedings.

“From the beginning we believed, and still believe, if there was strong will by the West, the nuclear talks could very quickly reach a conclusion,” Zarif told the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency. He added that the “other side is moving with greater caution.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Aug. 13 he supports Zarif and his nuclear negotiation team, even though he doesn’t put much value in direct talks with the U.S.

“We will not ban the continuation of nuclear talks and the job” that Zarif and his negotiating team are doing, Khamenei said. Still, “talking to Americans has absolutely no effect on reducing their animosity and it’s fruitless,” he said

Nuclear Weapons

A failure to reach a permanent deal would again put the U.S. and other countries on a collision course with Iran over the Islamic republic’s potential to build nuclear weapons.

A major stumbling block is uranium enrichment, the industrial process that can be used to separate isotopes, both for nuclear power and bombs. Iran says it wants advanced enrichment technologies yielding industrial-scale capacity for power, while U.S. officials say the country’s ability to enrich must be constrained for at least a decade.

The next round of talks between Iran and P5+1 is scheduled for mid-September to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

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