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Obama Briefed on Iran Nuclear Talks After Deadline Passes

"Enough progress" was made to justify continuing negotiations past a March 31 deadline and into Wednesday, the State Department said.
/ Source: NBC News

President Barack Obama on Tuesday evening convened a video teleconference meeting with U.S. officials trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, after talks were extended and a Tuesday deadline passed with no agreement.

Diplomats from Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries — the U.S., China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain — are trying to hammer out the framework of an agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Obama Tuesday evening was briefed by U.S. officials trying to work out a deal, said National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan. Talks will continue in Switzerland Wednesday, the State Department has said. A deadline to reach a general framework of a deal had been set for Tuesday but has been extended.

One of the talks' biggest sticking points, according to U.S. negotiators, has been getting Iran to curtail its research and development on nuclear activity for at least 10 years but potentially longer. Another has been on the timing of sanctions relief for Iran if a deal is reached.

"We've made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. "There are several difficult issues still remaining."‎

The March 31 deadline was to reach a basic deal, with three more months given to iron out the details. The deadline has been moved twice before.

Iranian officials seemed not to mind. "We don't have any artificial deadline," said Hamid Baidinejad, a senior nuclear negotiator.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, with the national security team, participate in a secure video teleconference from the Situation Room of the White House with Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the U.S. team in Lausanne, Switzerland, negotiating with Iran, March 31, 2015.


— Phil Helsel