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U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there are "still significant gaps" but suggested that after consultations with Congress, which has been threatening additional sanctions, he would seek an extension of the talks beyond Sunday’s deadline.
According to diplomats in Vienna, the nuclear talks between the Iranian regime and six world powers would be adjourned two days early but plan to extend them past their planned July 20 end date, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Obama said that based on consultations with Secretary of State John Kerry and his national security team progress has been made in several areas and that there is a way forward toward reaching a comprehensive agreement with Tehran.
Kerry spoke of "very real gaps" Tuesday after two days of meetings with the Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The main dispute is over uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
The Iranian regime "has already signaled that it wants more time to negotiate, but Mr. Obama is almost certain to run into opposition on Capitol Hill if he agrees to it. Republicans and even some Democrats have argued that Tehran is simply stalling," The New York Times reported.
"It is unclear whether Iran will demand more sanctions relief in return for an extension. But in Vienna over the past two weeks, as Iran and the West began to define what a deal might look like, Mr.
Obama’s aides have debated a question that no longer seems theoretical: How much risk is the United States willing to take to reach a deal that will almost certainly leave Iran with some potential, over the long term, to make a nuclear weapon?
"The Iranian proposal Mr. Kerry brought back to Washington from Vienna, where he spent three days haggling with his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is widely judged as insufficient by American officials and intelligence experts.
"They argue that it would not give the West the minimum Mr. Kerry said last year was acceptable: at least a year’s warning time that Iran was racing to produce enough bomb-grade fuel for a nuclear weapon — even if fabricating the weapon itself would take longer," The Times report said.