Sunday, July 12, 2015

Iran Vows to Ramp up Nuclear Program if No Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif gestures as he 
talks Friday to a journalist from a balcony of the Palais 
Coburg hotel in Vienna, where Iran nuclear talks are 
being held. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The mood among international negotiators taking part in protracted talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which has swung from positive to starkly negative in recent days, began to improve again on Friday as officials said they would continue discussions over the weekend.
To allow more time to reach an accord, the European Union and the U.S. said Friday they were extending the terms of a 2013 interim nuclear deal with Iran to Monday night. The British and French foreign ministers, who left the nuclear talks on Friday, said they would return on Saturday to try to push through a final agreement.
“I think we have resolved some of the things that were outstanding and we’ve made some progress,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday, in an apparent shift in tone from a more pessimistic assessment a day earlier.
The negotiations have missed two deadlines in two weeks, and despite the new expiration date set for the interim agreement, are now proceeding without a target date. The interim pact has been extended several times before, and diplomats involved in talks have agreed easily on doing so each time.
Negotiators haven’t spelled out precise areas of disagreement. U.S. and European officials said Iran has complicated the talks in the past week by insisting all U.N. restrictions on Iran’s arms trade and ballistic-missile program be lifted as part of a final deal. As negotiations have dragged, meetings have grown acrimonious, with tense exchanges and shouting matches reported inside meeting rooms.
In Tehran, Iran’s top lawmaker warned Friday that his country was ready to ramp up its nuclear program if the U.S. and its Western partners make the “strategic mistake” of walking away from the talks. Ali Larijani, speaker of Iran’s parliament, was addressing a pro-Palestinian rally during which thousands of Iranians took to the streets, burning British, American and Israeli flags.
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