— -- The U.S. State Department announced this morning that Iran and the major countries negotiating a nuclear deal have extended the deadline from today to July 7 to "allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution."
The announcement comes after Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for almost two hours earlier today. Zarif had just returned from a trip back to Tehran to consult with his country’s leadership.
Asked whether he was given a mandate to get a final deal, Zarif told reporters, "I didn't go to get a mandate. I already had a mandate to negotiate and I'm here to get a final deal and I think we can.”
The Obama Administration has consistently stood by statements saying negotiators would stick to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deadline of June 30, though the new deadline would still leave room for a final deal to be submitted to the U.S. Congress before a July 9 deadline.
Negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the ‘P5+1,’ made up of the United States, China, France, Russia, the U.K. and Germany have been set back by divisions on how a final deal will be implemented.
At issue is how fast billions of dollars in sanctions relief against Iran’s economy will be implemented by the international community, as well as the level of access inspectors will have to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists.
In recent months, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made public statements suggesting Iran would not agree to key parameters outlined in the framework pitched by the U.S., however Khamenei tweeted his support for the country’s negotiating team Tuesday morning.
Speaking to reporters in the White House the afternoon, President Obama said the goal of the Iranian nuclear negotiations “is not rely on trust,” but a strict set of verifiable inspections parameters to make sure Iran is unable to obtain a nuclear weapon.
"I will walk away from the negotiations if it is a bad deal,” Obama said. "There has been a lot of talk on the other side from the Iranian negotiators about whether, in fact, they can abide by some of the terms that came up in Lausanne. If they cannot, that's going to be a problem."
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