Iran and six world powers resumed talks on Thursday aimed at hammering out an accord later this month to end a long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, seeking to bridge still wide gaps in their negotiating positions.
After informal contacts on Wednesday, chief negotiators from Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain began a full plenary session shortly after 9 A.M. (0700 GMT), the sixth round of talks in Vienna since February.
They have less than three weeks to try to agree on the future scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal.
Western officials privately acknowledge that an extension of the talks might be needed, although that could further complicate an already difficult task.
Amid turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, the diplomatic stakes are high. Israel, Iran’s arch foe, has in the past threatened military strikes against Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to settle the standoff. Iran denies any nuclear weapons ambitions and says it is Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal that threatens regional peace and stability.