International negotiators announced Tuesday that the deadline to secure a nuclear deal in talks with Iran is being extended to July 7. Negotiations between Iran and a coalition of the United States, China, France, Russia, the U.K. and Germany have been ongoing in Vienna. Iran and the countries negotiating the deal agreed to the deadline extension to “allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution,” according to a statement from the U.S. State Department.
The original deadline was Tuesday, but officials announced nearly a week earlier the deadline wasn’t likely to be met. The completion of a final deal has been hampered by divisions between the negotiators on how the final deal will be implemented. Billions of dollars in sanctions relief and the amount of access granted to inspectors to review Iranian military sites and interview nuclear scientists seem to be the biggest sticking points in the negotiations. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made public statements in recent months suggesting the way key parameters were outlined in the framework agreement were unacceptable to Iran.
Diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity reported that Iran has already complied with a key condition of the ongoing nuclear talks. The country has significantly reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium, as required by a preliminary deal reached in November 2013. Depending on its level of enrichment, the enriched uranium can be used to generate energy or serve as the fissile core of a nuclear weapon. Iran agreed to cap its stockpile of lower-enriched uranium at about 7.6 tons. The diplomats reported the compliance will be officially made public Wednesday in a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The talks in Vienna began again Tuesday after a one-day interruption. With the new deadline, it would still be possible for a final deal to be submitted to the U.S. Congress before the deadline of July 9. The negotiators hope to reach a deal that would restrict Iran’s nuclear program for a decade and provide Iran with tens of billions of dollars in relief from international economic sanctions.