Kerry downplays deadline speculation as he arrives at Iran talks in Vienna

US Secretary of State John Kerry downplayed the possibility of a deadline extension to the Iran nuclear talks as he left France to head to Vienna for the negotiations.

At a press conference in Paris, Mr Kerry was asked about comments made by UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday which suggested an extension was likely.

Mr Kerry replied “We’re not talking about an extension, not among ourselves. We have not talked about the ingredients of an extension or – we’re talking about getting an agreement. Now, I know that Secretary Hammond is concerned about the gaps. We all are …But we are not discussing extension; we are negotiating to try to get an agreement. It’s that simple.”

Mr Kerry had been in Paris for talks with the French and Saudi governments. Both countries are concerned about the possibility of a deal with Iran that isn’t strong enough.

Speaking about a possible deal, Mr Kerry commented “[O]ur principles as a group are rock solid. As we have said every single step of this process, an agreement like the one we are seeking is not built on trust, as much as anybody might like it to be. It is built on verification. And no member of the P5+1 is prepared to or can accept any arrangements that we cannot verify or make any promises that cannot be kept.”

The deadline for a nuclear deal is this Monday. Despite Mr Kerry’s comments, several sources have told the media that a deadline extension is possible and even likely.

In related news, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General, Yukiya Amano, told the IAEA board that Iran had still failed to properly explain research and testing that seem to be linked to nuclear bomb development. Mr Amano urged Iran “to increase its cooperation with the agency and to provide timely access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel”.

In response, Iran yesterday offered the IAEA access to the Marivan nuclear facility, but not the Parchin facility. The IAEA had been seeking access to Parchin, not Marivan.

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