With deadline looming, Kerry heading to Vienna for Iran talks

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna for talks ahead of a July 20 deadline for an Iran nuclear deal.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry will head to the Austrian capital for consultations with Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the European Union; Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister; and foreign ministers from the P5+1 nations — Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States. The world powers are negotiating a deal with Iran to exchange sanctions relief for guarantees that it would not obtain a nuclear weapon.

The presence of Kerry at such talks signifies make-or-break decisions.

Gaps remain between the sides over the degree of limits Iran must accept on uranium enrichment and the intrusiveness of inspections.

Kerry will see if progress can be made on the issues where significant gaps remain and assess Iran’s willingness to make critical choices, Harf said in her tweet, adding that he will make recommendations to President Obama about next steps in the negotiations.

There is an option to extend the talks by six months, although neither side has called for such an extension.