5:45 am - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Kerry says ‘driving towards finish’ on Iran nuke deal

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US Secretary of State John Kerry struggles to keep Middle East peace talks on track
US Secretary of State John Kerry struggles to keep Middle East peace talks on track

US Secretary of State John Kerry today claimed he was ‘driving towards the finish’ to secure what would be a historic deal with Iran over its nuclear programme as a November 24 deadline looms.
Speaking to reporters in Paris, Kerry said there was ‘no intention at this point of talking about an extension’ as ministers stepped up shuttle diplomacy ahead of the deadline.

“We are not contemplating an extension,” stressed Kerry, ahead of what are likely to be crunch talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Muscat on November 9-10.

“We are driving towards the finish with the view we are to trying to get it done,” he said.

The meeting in Oman comes amid recognition that serious gaps still remain between global powers grouped under the so-called P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — and Iran.

Kerry has previously warned that the coming weeks will finally reveal whether the Islamic Republic is truly prepared to make the tough decisions needed to curb its suspect nuclear programme and win a lifting of international sanctions.

Months of intense negotiations, including between Kerry and Zarif in mid-October in Vienna, have made some progress but appear deadlocked on the key issues of uranium enrichment and the pace of any sanctions relief.

Enrichment renders uranium suitable for nuclear power generation and other peaceful uses but also, at high purities, for a nuclear bomb.

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