Kerry: Iran Talks Won’t be Extended Again

February 21, 2015  

United States Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that there are still “significant gaps” in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, but President Barack Obama is not prepared to extend the talks further, AFP reported.

Kerry’s comments came in a stopover in London before he heads to Geneva Sunday for two more days of talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“There are still significant gaps, there is still a distance to travel,” Kerry told a press conference in London.

“President Obama has no inclination whatsoever to extend these talks beyond the period that has been set out,” he added, stressing that Obama was “fully prepared to stop these talks” if necessary.

Iran and the six world powers reached an interim deal in November of 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.

The sides were then supposed to continue talks and turn the interim deal into a permanent one. However, the talks have stalled and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed, with a third one looming on July 1. Under the new agreement, a political framework must be reached by March 31.

U.S. and Iranian negotiators have been meeting in Geneva since Friday and senior P5+1 negotiators are also set to meet in the Swiss city Sunday in a bid to drive the talks forward.

Kerry also used his London stop to stress the international community was “united” and “in lock step” over the negotiations.

“There is absolutely no divergence whatsoever in what we believe is necessary for Iran to prove that its nuclear program is going to be peaceful,” he said earlier in the day, according to AFP.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz flew in to Geneva on Saturday to take part in the talks for the first time, and at Kerry’s request.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, was also taking part in the negotiations.

But Kerry played down any suggestion that this meant the talks were on the verge of a breakthrough.

“I would not read into it any indication whatsoever,” he said, adding that Moniz was present because of the “technical” nature of the talks.

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