Iran's Foreign Minister Optimistic About Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voices optimism that a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program can be resolved by November 24.

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Elad Benari,

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday voiced optimism that a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program can be resolved by a November 24 deadline, Reuters reports.

Zarif’s comments came after talks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"I am quite optimistic after discussions with Lady Ashton that we can in fact resolve this issue in time," Zarif said after what he described as "good" talks with Ashton, according to Reuters.

"I hope with the readiness and political will that I see in all parties to this discussion to have a resolution within the next three months," he told a news conference following separate talks with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

However, Zarif cautioned that reaching an agreement "requires political will, it requires full awareness of the need to address the issues rather than simply domestic constituencies."

Iran and Western powers continue talks on a permanent nuclear deal, as a follow-up to an interim deal that was reached in November.

The interim deal was set to expire on July 20, but the sides recently committed to a four-month negotiating extension through November 24, after they were unable to reach a permanent deal by the original deadline.

Western countries suspect Iran's program is aimed at seeking the capability to build a nuclear bomb, while Tehran insists it is peaceful.

The next round of talks between the six powers and Iran is scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later in September.

Only several weeks ago Zarif was pessimistic that Tehran would reach a final nuclear deal by the November deadline, as saying that even if a general agreement is reached before the deadline, the two sides will require more time to discuss details.

Zarif said the talks could "quickly" reach a conclusion if world powers show "strong will." He said the other side has moved cautiously over the past few months but that the negotiations are making progress.

During the talks, Iran has consistently insisted that it will never give up on what it sees as its right to uranium enrichment.