Final deal in Iran nuke talks unlikely by deadline

Nov 13, 2014, 1:31 AM EST
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R), former EU top diplomat Catherine Ashton (2nd L), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) and Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi (2nd R) pose for a photo in Muscat on November 9, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Despite nearly a year of negotiations, Iran and six major powers are unlikely to meet a Nov. 24 deadline to reach a final deal to lift international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, officials say. Reuters writes:

Western and Iranian officials told Reuters the two sides would probably settle for another interim agreement that builds on the limited sanctions relief agreed a year ago as they hammer away at their deep disagreements in the coming months.

"We could see the outline of a final deal emerging by Nov. 24 but probably not the deal itself," a Western official said. Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, along with the European Union's former foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are locked in talks which have shuttled between Brussels, Oman and Vienna.

Publicly all sides say it is still possible to reach a comprehensive agreement to end all sanctions in return for long-term limits on Iran's nuclear program to ensure it never makes an atomic weapon. Privately, expectations of what is achievable when senior foreign ministry officials begin the final week of talks next Tuesday in Vienna are much more modest.

Russia has agreed to build up to eight nuclear reactors in Iran, 12 days before a deadline for a deal to curb Iran's nuclear activity. The BBC reports:

The deal agreed by Russia and Iran envisages the construction of two reactors, with scope for a further six. World powers including Russia have been pressurising Iran to curb its activity amid fears it wants to build a bomb.

Diplomats are due to meet for a final round of talks next week. It is unclear what effect the Russian deal will have. Six world powers - the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China - are seeking to persuade Iran to reduce its uranium enrichment to a level below that required to build a weapon.

They have offered to lift sanctions in exchange. It is thought that Iran would want help with its civilian nuclear programme in return for submitting itself to more invasive inspections. Russian news reports quoted Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying that the agreement on building the new reactors was "a turning point in the development of relations between our countries".

Two of the reactors will be built at the nuclear facility at Bushehr.