Significant differences remain between the six world powers and the Iranian regime in negotiations over Tehran's nuclear programme, British Foreign Minister William Hague told an Austrian newspaper.
In an interview conducted by the Wiener Zeitung via email on Wednesday and published on Thursday, Hague said a deal was far from certain but that all possibilities should be exhausted in a final round of talks now taking place in Vienna.
The Iranian regime and the 5+1 powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - aim to reach a long-term deal to end the decade-old standoff by a self-imposed July 20 deadline. Some diplomats and analysts believe an extension may be needed in view of the still-wide gaps in negotiating positions.
"Achieving an agreement is far from certain," Hague said. "Significant differences remain ... which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue."
Obvious and serious gaps
Michael Mann, the spokesperson for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said on Wednesday, July 9: “We are working very hard, we are working on drafting the text. But there are still obvious, serious gaps to close and we are determined to work hard to try and close those gaps.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’ said on Tuesday, July 8, that there were disagreements between Russia and other members of the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over Iran. He said in Paris that none of the major outstanding issues had been agreed.
However, Michael Mann, told Reuters that the group of six countries “has been united and is still united”.
Khamenei calls for expansion of nuclear capacity
The Iranian regime's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said his regime would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, highlighting the gap in positions between Tehran and world powers.
in a speech at the presence of clerical regime’s leaders, including Hassan Rouhani, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Ali and Sadeq Larijani, he stressed on the imperative to preserve and expand regime’s nuclear capacities and said: “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.”
An SWU is a measurement of the effort necessary for the separation of isotopes of uranium.
Khamenei added, the other side is taking a maximalist position so that we would concede to a lesser unfavorable offer… the U.S. has no right to express concern about the possibility of countries obtaining nuclear weapons since the U.S. has itself used this weapon and has currently several thousand nuclear bombs”.
Khamenei said that “nuclear research and advancement surely ought to be observed in the negotiations” and described the P5+1 request to close down Fordow site as absurd.