Iran Says Talks with World Powers Will be Extended
Iran's foreign minister suggested on Tuesday that six world powers are leaning towards extending nuclear talks with Tehran beyond a July 20 deadline, Reuters reported.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "serious differences" remained in nuclear talks with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. He added, however, that the text of a draft accord on curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions had been improved significantly recently.
There is "an inclination among (the six powers) that more time may be useful", Zarif told reporters after three days of meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
He added that a decision on prolonging the negotiations past July 20 had not been taken. There was no immediate comment from the six powers.
Iran and the West are currently seeking to turn an interim nuclear agreement reached into November into a permanent deal, but Iran has toughened its position in recent weeks.
Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran "needs" 19 times more nuclear centrifuges than the amount being offered by world powers.
Iranian nuclear agency head Ali Akbar Salehi echoed Khamenei’s remarks a day later, saying Iran wants to greatly expand its uranium enrichment program despite Western fears that it could be used to make atomic arms.
Kerry and other Western leaders said on Sunday that "significant differences" remain between the sides.
In an interview earlier this week, Zarif claimed that Tehran has no interest in building an atomic bomb, despite Western powers' claims otherwise.
"I will commit to everything and anything that would provide credible assurances for the international community that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, because we are not," he said.
"We don't see any benefit in Iran developing a nuclear weapon," claimed Zarif.