Framework of Deal Essential to Continue Talks

Framework of Deal Essential to Continue TalksFramework of Deal Essential to Continue Talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry says the continuation of nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers may only be possible when the basic framework of an agreement between the two sides is worked out.

Speaking in an interview aired on Sunday, Kerry said, "The only chance I can see of an extension at this point in time would be that you really have the outlines of the agreement."

Kerry, who was in Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference, made the remarks in the interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" taped on Saturday.

He said, "If we're not able to make the fundamental decisions that have to be made over the course of the next weeks, literally, I think it would be impossible to extend."

"I don't think we would want to extend at that point. Either you make the decisions to prove your program is a peaceful one, or if you're unable to do that, it may tell a story that none of us want to hear."

Some western countries have been accusing Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, however, has denied the allegation and says its program is solely for peaceful applications, including energy production and medical research purposes.  

After nearly a year of talks, Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed for a second time last November to meet a self-imposed deadline to reach a long-tem settlement to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. They agreed to extend the talks until June 30.

They aim to reach a general agreement by March which would lay out the key points of a final pact and use the remaining time to finalize the details of the accord.  

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday Iran would rather sign a fair nuclear agreement with the major powers than strike a deal that contradicts the interests of the Iranian nation.

Ayatollah Khamenei also reiterated that any deal with the P5+1 should be done "in a single stage" and include general terms and details together.

In view of the past record of the other party, any agreement on general terms would be used by them as an instrument for "making further excuses," IRNA quoted the Leader as saying.

  Not the End of the World

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said that extension of the talks would not be in the interest of anybody. Zarif told the annual gathering of the world's top diplomats and defense officials on Sunday in Munich that there is an opportunity to strike a deal with Iran and such an opportunity "may not be repeated."  

Zarif met his American counterpart twice on the sidelines of the conference in Munich. Following his second visit with Kerry he said he felt that progress had been made in the past months and suggested it would be "unproductive" to further extend negotiations, the Associated Press reported.

The US State Department also described Sunday's discussion between Zarif and Kerry as "constructive".

Zarif suggested if it took slightly longer to come to an agreement than the set deadlines, it would not "be the end of the world."

Zarif said all sanctions against his country should be lifted, saying that if they had been intended to stop its nuclear program they had failed. He said when sanctions had been imposed, Iran had 200 centrifuges, and "now we have 20,000."