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'Substantial differences' remain in Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West ahead of the July 20 deadline for a deal, a regime spokesperson has said.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham made the remark as negotiators worked in Vienna on a draft agreement meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to sanctions.

Diplomats familiar with the closed-door talks say the main problem remains uranium enrichment, according to a report by Associated Press.

Meanwhile European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann said no decision has been made on asking the foreign ministers of the six world powers - Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany - to join talks over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna.

Mr Mann told France's AFP news agency: "Catherine Ashton is considering asking foreign ministers to attend but no decision has been made."

The announcement comes despite Tuesday’s report by the Chinese news agency Xinhua that some foreign ministers from the sextet were likely to join a decisive round of marathon talks on Iran’s nuclear program on coming Friday.

This round of talks, coordinated by the European Union, started on July 2 and is expected to run until at least July 15. The two sides have now less than two weeks to clinch a deal by their self-imposed deadline that expires on July 20.

The Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in a speech to the regime's clerical including Hassan Rouhani, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Ali and Sadeq Larijani that it was 'imperative' to preserve and expand regime’s nuclear capacities.

He added: "They are planning to restrict enrichment to 10,000 SWU (Separative Work Unit) which is the yield of around 10,000 old-type centrifuges, while the definite need of the country is 190,000 SWU."

Counting on the Western countries’ policy of appeasement, he said the West was taking a maximalist position so that Iran would concede to a lesser unfavorable offer, adding: "The US has no right to express concern about the possibility of countries obtaining nuclear weapons since the US has itself used this weapon and has currently several thousand nuclear bombs."

Khamenei described the deadly crisis engulfing his regime, and especially after the developments in the region and Iraq, as 'a truly historical bottleneck'.

He added: "The enemy plans to create disruption in the calculation system of the Iranian officials so that they would not put goals contrary to US interests on the agenda and this is the soft war that has been pointed to many years ago.

"As we have repeatedly stated, the nuclear issue is just a pretext and had it not existed, other fabricated pretexts such as human rights, women’s rights, or other issues will be put on the table."


Iran News in Brief - 28 March 2015


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