Iran and six world powers failed today to meet their target date for cutting a nuclear deal but agreed to extend the talks until Nov. 24. Months of exhausting negotiations were meant to culminate in an agreement by tomorrow that would limit programs Iran says it needs to produce energy and for other peaceful purposes—but which can also be used to make nuclear arms. In return, Tehran would have gotten progressive relief from all nuclear-related sanctions on its economy. With both the US and Tehran facing pressure from powerful skeptics at home, the two sides tried to put a good face on what had been accomplished, while acknowledging that full agreement was a distance away.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who flew into Vienna a week ago to try and advance the talks, said stretching out the talks "is warranted by the progress we've made and the path forward we can envision," while a Tehran statement cited "tangible progress." The main dispute remains over uranium enrichment. Up to last week, Iran, which insists it does not want nuclear arms, pushed to be allowed to expand its enrichment program over the next eight years to a level that would need about 190,000 current model centrifuges. It now has about 20,000 centrifuges, and diplomats say Washington wants no more than 2,000.