Iran, P5+1 world powers extend nuclear talks deadline by a week

The six world powers and Iran have come to an agreement to extend the interim deal on Tehran’s nuclear program until July 7 to allow more time for talks to reach a final deal. The decision was made Tuesday, which had previously been set as a deadline.

"The P5+1 and Iran have decided to extend the measures under the Joint Plan of Action until July 7 to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution ... on the Iran nuclear issue," Marie Harf, senior adviser for strategic communications at the US State Department, said.

The EU Council issued a similar statement, confirming the extension of talks for a week.

The P5+1 group of international mediators – the UK, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany – have been locked in lengthy negotiations with Iran to ensure the peaceful nature of Tehran's nuclear program.

Following meetings behind closed doors with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and then with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there are grounds to believe that a resolution of Tehran’s nuclear deal is “within reach.”

"[During talks] with Kerry we touched upon issues related to the Vienna negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. The situation at the talks is progress in the right direction, with not technical but rather procedural issues, such as presenting the agreement to the UN Security Council, which remains unsettled," Lavrov said. "There are grounds to believe that the result is within reach and we have instructed our deputies to spare no effort in reaching the agreement within days."

Zarif told reporters after his own meeting with Kerry: "I am here to get a final deal, and I think we can."

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined the importance of striking a final deal that would be observed by both parties.

If the nuclear agreement is achieved we will be committed to fulfill it, but of course it is obvious that the other side will also be committed to fulfill it,” he told a media conference in Tehran, IRNA reported. "If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine."

US President Barack Obama, in his turn, urged Iran to remain committed to the deal. “Ultimately this is going to be up to the Iranians” to meet the requirements set out by the international community, he told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

The negotiations are taking place within the framework of the agreement reached between the international powers and Iran on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The negotiations, which have been going on for the past three months, have focused on Iran suspending a portion of its nuclear activities in return for relief from Western sanctions.

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to announce in July that Iran has reportedly reduced its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to the level of about 7.6 kg, which was required to be done under a preliminary nuclear deal by June 30, several US media reported citing diplomatic sources at the Vienna talks. Previously Iran had some 8,714.7 kg of low-enriched uranium.

READ MORE: As Iran nuclear deadline passes, narrative battle heats up (Op-Ed)

Sharmine Narwani, a commentator on Middle East geopolitics, believes that the extension of talks was decided due to the opening of new topics that were not discussed in Lausanne.

“According to various sources, at this late date, US negotiators are opening up discussion points that Iran thought they’d already dealt with,” she told RT.

These include access to Iranian military sites (which Iran has already rejected), some technical issues around the Fordo nuclear facility, research and development parameters, and the critical issue around the timeline established for staged sanctions relief. Clearly, for the Iranians, one of the main objectives of these negotiations is the removal of all international sanctions related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear file.”