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Talks over Iran nuclear program extended until November.

WASHINGTON, July 19 (KUNA) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that "tangible progress" has been made in the comprehensive negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program but "there are very real gaps in some areas."

"Today, we have a draft text that covers the main issues, but there are still a number of brackets and blank spaces in that text," Kerry said in a statement, late on Friday.

He stressed "still, there are very real gaps on issues such as enrichment capacity at the Natanz enrichment facility. This issue is an absolutely critical component of any potential comprehensive agreement."

He affirmed "we have much more work to do in this area, and in others as well."

The U.S. top diplomat said "to turn our back prematurely on diplomatic efforts when significant progress has been made would deny ourselves the ability to achieve our objectives peacefully, and to maintain the international unity that we have built."

"While we've made clear that no deal is better than a bad deal, the very real prospect of reaching a good agreement that achieves our objectives necessitates that we seek more time," he remarked.

He noted "as a result, we have decided, along with the EU, our P5+1 partners, and Iran, to extend the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) until November 24, exactly one year since we finalized the first step agreement in Geneva."

He added that "this will give us a short amount of additional time to continue working to conclude a comprehensive agreement, which we believe is warranted by the progress we've made and the path forward we can envision."

He indicated "for the next four months, we will continue to halt the progress of Iran's nuclear program in key areas. In addition, Iran has committed to take further nuclear-related steps in the next four months that are consistent with the types of steps that they committed to in the JPOA. These include a continued cap on the amount of five percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and a commitment to convert any material over that amount into oxide."

"In the JPOA, Iran diluted half of its 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and converted the rest to oxide. In this extension, Iran has committed to go one step further and make all of this 20 percent into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor," he added.

He continued "Twenty-five kilograms of this material will be converted into fuel by the end of the extension. Once the 20 percent material is in fuel form, it will be very difficult for Iran to use this material for a weapon in a breakout scenario."

He added "In return, we will continue to suspend the sanctions we agreed to under the JPOA and will allow Iran access to USD 2.8 billion dollars of its restricted assets, the four-month prorated amount of the original JPOA commitment."

"Let me be clear: Iran will not get any more money during these four months than it did during the last six months, and the vast majority of its frozen oil revenues will remain inaccessible," he stressed.

He affirmed "just as we have over the last six months, we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that remain in place."

Kerry reaffirmed "Critically, Iran's nuclear program will remain halted during the next four months. This is in our interest, and in the interest of our allies."

"As we pursue this path, we will continue to consult with those allies and with the Congress about this critical issue," he noted.

Kerry stressed "now we have four additional months to determine the next miles of this difficult diplomatic journey. Let's all commit to seize this moment, and to use the additional time to make the fundamental choices necessary to conclude a comprehensive agreement that makes the entire world a safer place." (end)

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jul 19, 2014
Words:655
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