Kerry: Iran nuclear talks ‘could go either way’

The Secretary of State warned that 'Obama has always said we’ve been prepared to walk away'

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said that the talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear program could “go either way” and that the U.S. was “not going to shave anywhere at the margins” on a deal, as the self-imposed deadline for the talks loomed closer.

Kerry, who is in Vienna with along world powers to try to hammer out a final deal to tame Iran’s nuclear program ahead of a Tuesday deadline, told reporters in a quick address that “none of us [negotiators from six world powers] content to do something that can’t past scrutiny.”

He also struck a conciliatory note between the two sides, saying: “Our Iranian counterparts have been working hard. Everybody is negotiating hard, that’s what makes this difficult.”

However, he warned that in the case of Iran not making concessions in exchange for relief on sanctions that have stalled the Islamic Republic’s economy, “Obama has always said we’ve been prepared to walk away.”

While they have made some progress on the type of bilateral sanctions relief that Iran may receive, the two sides remain divided on such issues as lifting United Nations sanctions and on research and development using advanced centrifuges.

“Many of the issues related to sanctions have been resolved, and there are four or five issues that remain including the important topic of ensuring both sides’ steps correspond to each other and happen at the same time,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.

Iran, the United States and five major powers, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, are trying to resolve a more than dozen-year-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which the big powers suspect aims to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

Iran denies this, saying that its program is solely for peaceful purposes such as producing medical isotopes.

A nuclear deal with Iran is “very close” after almost two years of negotiations, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Sunday.

Speaking as she arrived back in Vienna to join down-to-the-wire negotiations, Mogherini told reporters: “The time is now... We are very close.”

Meanwhile, top IAEA officials were to fly to Iran Sunday following a visit to Tehran last week by the U.N. watchdog’s chief, Yukiya Amano, Iranian sources told AFP.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declined to comment on the reported visit by Amano’s deputies to discuss ways of resolving lingering questions over Iran’s nuclear program.

(With agencies)

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