Barack Obama says he'll "walk away" from a bad nuclear deal, while his counterpart in Tehran says Iran could go back to enriching large amounts of uranium. The comments come hours after negotiations were extended.
After negotiators gave themselves another week to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program, Barack Obama said he would "walk away" from a bad deal. The US president added that he had heard "a lot of talk" from Iranian negotiators questioning the terms of a framework agreement reached in Switzerland in April - a deal that he would accept. Republicans and some Democrats have called for Obama to remain steadfast.
"If we can't provide assurances that the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are closed and if we can't verify that, if the inspections regime, verifications regime, is inadequate, then we're not going to get a deal," Obama said.
Both sides still disagree as to how long it will take to lift all sanctions, and whether Iran will permit International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit certain military sites. With the end of Tuesday approaching and no end in sight, Iran and the P5+1 gave themselves an extra week to work one out. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, China, France and Russia - plus Germany seek to curb Iran's nuclear activities, allowing for an energy program but no military application; Tehran's negotiating team has tried to work out an end to sanctions.
"Experts estimate that lifting sanctions will result in economic growth of between 5 and 7 percent and a fall in the unemployment rate of about 3 percent," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Iranian news agency IRNA on Tuesday. "That would create around 1 million new jobs," he added.
At the weekend, Steinmeier said that failure to reach a deal could lead to an "arms race" in the Middle East. On Sunday, EU foreign affairs coordinator Federica Mogherini expressed optimism that a deal would be reached.
'The old path'
The July 7 deadline falls two days ahead of a cutoff imposed by the US Congress to allow lawmakers 60 days to review any deal. The EU and US have suspended some sanctions against Iran, which has scaled back nuclear activities under the 2013 Joint Plan of Action.
Iranian representatives have said they are ready for a deal, barring any new "excessive demands." President Hassan Rouhani warned the P5+1 on Tuesday that Tehran would resume its halted nuclear work if negotiators went back on a proposed final deal.
"If we reach a deal, both sides should be committed to it," Rouhani said, according to IRNA. "If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine."
The US and Iran cut ties after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which deposed the US-supported Shah and installed the succession of ayatollahs. By beginning negotiations, both Obama and Rouhani have braved considerable backlash from hard-liners back home.
mkg/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)