Newspaper Article - The New York Times

Crucial Questions Remain as Iran Nuclear Talks Approach Deadline

| June 28, 2015

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator was heading back to Tehran on Sunday to consult with his nation’s leadership, as negotiators remained divided over how to limit and monitor Tehran’s nuclear program and even on how to interpret the preliminary agreement they reached two months ago.

With all sides now acknowledging that the talks would need to continue beyond Tuesday, once considered the absolute deadline for a final deal, officials from several nations said some of the politically difficult questions — from inspections to how fast Iran could expand its nuclear infrastructure in the waning years of an accord — are still just as vexing as they were when the 18-month negotiation odyssey began.

For Secretary of State John Kerry, for whom an Iran deal would be the crowning achievement of his time in office, how the talks proceed this week will determine whether he can make a convincing argument to skeptics in Congress that he has negotiated an airtight freeze on the program for at least a decade while hobbling Iran’s ability to race for a bomb for years thereafter.

For Mr. Kerry’s counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, the obstacles to achieving his No. 1 goal — getting the crippling sanctions on Iran lifted — are a tricky mix of both substance and perception.

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