Obama: Iran nuclear talks may not reach deal by deadline


US President Barack Obama said that there was still a big gap between Iran and Western powers over an agreement that ensures preventing Tehran from producing nuclear weapons, and added that reaching an agreement seems highly unlikely.

US-led economic sanctions have driven Iran to the negotiating table to strike a deal concerning its nuclear weapons program, Obama said in an interview on Sunday with CBS TV channel.

A final step would involve Iran providing “verifiable, lock tight assurances that they can’t develop a nuclear weapon,” Obama said. “There’s still a big gap,” he told CBS. “We may not be able to get there.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, held talks with his US counterpart John Kerry and senior European Union envoy Catherine Ashton in Oman on Sunday, in an attempt to bridge the gaps before officially resuming negotiations in Vienna on 18 November.

The Muscat talks talks were preceded by a meeting held by representatives of the six world powers held talks in Vienna, over the final stages of Iran’s nuclear programme ahead of the 24 November deadline.

Obama refused to comment on a report that he sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei about combating the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group.

Obama said the United States and Iran shared a common enemy, the Islamic State, but reiterated that the nuclear talks were not connected to the fight against Islamic State. “We’re not coordinating with Iran on ISIL,” he told CBS.