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Key Envoy: Iran Talks May Drag Into 2015

U.N. nuclear inspectors disconnect uranium fuel-production equipment at Iran's Natanz plant in January, marking the start of an interim atomic agreement reached by Tehran and six other governments. A senior Iranian envoy said reaching a successor deal may require extending the current accord into next February. U.N. nuclear inspectors disconnect uranium fuel-production equipment at Iran's Natanz plant in January, marking the start of an interim atomic agreement reached by Tehran and six other governments. A senior Iranian envoy said reaching a successor deal may require extending the current accord into next February. (Kazem Ghane/AFP/Getty Images)

A key Iranian envoy said defusing an international nuclear standoff may require extending an interim pact on the matter into next year, Reuters reports.

Failing to hammer out terms by next month to dispel fears about Iran's nuclear efforts would leave Tehran and six other governments with "no choice" other than to push back the accord's expiration by half a year, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in remarks quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

On Tuesday, though, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would "do its best" to reach a long-term agreement before the current deal's scheduled July 20 expiration, Agence France-Presse reported. Iran insists its atomic efforts are peaceful, but has held out the possibility of imposing long-term limits on the disputed activities in exchange for sanctions relief from China, France, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Analysts have said complications could result from bumping back the agreement's sunset date, and Washington last week moved to tamp down speculation that the negotiators had given up on the July deadline.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, though, on Tuesday said the sides are "hitting a wall" over the Persian Gulf power's uranium-enrichment efforts, Reuters reported.

"We say that there can be a few hundred centrifuges, but the Iranians want thousands," he said. Tehran contends it only wants the systems to produce uranium fuel for civilian atomic efforts, but other countries suspect the government wants an ability to rapidly generate higher-purity material for nuclear bombs.

Meanwhile, senior diplomats from Washington and Tehran on Tuesday launched a second day of bilateral talks on the dispute, AFP reported.

Araqchi described the first day of discussions as "constructive," the wire service reported separately.

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