WASHINGTON: World powers and Iran will start drafting a final nuclear agreement next month, a US official said in a surprisingly optimistic assessment that expressed hope that a comprehensive pact could be reached in July.
Negotiators were to meet again next week in Vienna. The sides were making progress in talks, said the official. More than a decade of deadlocked diplomacy ended last year with an interim agreement providing Iran limited easing of international sanctions for strict limits on its uranium enrichment and potential plutonium production.
The Obama administration and the United Nations say Iran has honoured the six-month agreement thus far. It expires in July and may be extended by another six months. The US official said the goal remains to seal a final pact before July 20, without the need for a six-month extension. The official said much of the work remaining was technical in nature, but noted that nothing had yet been agreed.
Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama put the chances of a successful final agreement at 50-50 or less. He has said diplomacy with Iran must be tested because the alternative of possible military intervention by the US or any other country is far less desirable.