Hard to reach Iran nuke deal by Nov. 24: U.S., UK

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken puts onus on Tehran, rather than on Washington, to achieve a deal

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American and British officials have voiced pessimism about a deal being reached between world powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program by the Nov. 24 deadline set for the talks.

In the United States, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken told lawmakers on Tuesday that it now appeared difficult to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran by the deadline.

"Right now, I think it’s going to be difficult to get to where we want to go. It’s not impossible," Blinken, who is U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to be deputy secretary of state, said at his nomination hearing for the diplomatic post.

Six major powers are in negotiations with Iran in an effort to reach an agreement under which Iran would agree to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions ahead of a self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline.

Blinken put the onus on Tehran, rather than on Washington, to achieve an agreement, which is being negotiated with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

"It [reaching a deal] depends entirely on whether Iran is willing to take the steps it must take to convince us, to convince our partners, that its program would be for entirely peaceful purposes," he said. "As we speak, we're not there."

In the U.K, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday he was not optimistic that world powers and Iran would clinch a full nuclear deal by Nov. 24 but that there may be a way of extending the self-imposed deadline.

“I’m not optimistic that we can get everything done by Monday,” Hammond told reporters in the Latvian capital.

“But I think if we make some significant movement we may be able to find a way of extending the deadline to allow us to get to the final deal if we’re making a good progress in the right direction.”

A final nuclear deal would see Iran offer assurances that it could not quickly pursue a path to a nuclear bomb, in exchange for a phased lifting of tight international sanctions on Tehran.

(With Reuters)

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