No Deal Reached In Nuclear Talks With Iran

Skepticism from the French delegation prevented the U.S. and five other major powers to agree on a temporary freeze of Iran's nuclear program.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. For the past three days, six world powers have been in intense discussions with Iran to curb that country's nuclear program. Those talks ended early this morning without an agreement. Nuclear negotiators in Geneva were joined by a handful of leading diplomats for the talks. Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew in to try to close the deal. In the end, objections by France were blamed for the snag, but officials say they'll be back at it on November 20th. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The speculation had been that if anyone would crack the unity of the so-called P5+1, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, it would be Russia. But in the end it was France that stood in the way of success this week. Diplomats said France raised a number of questions about whether enough was being demanded of Iran to halt its nuclear progress. Foreign minister Laurent Fabius was quoted as saying it was important not to play a fool's game. After one last meeting that ran well past midnight failed to bring an accord, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took the high road, saying differences within the P5+1 are to be expected and that this round was not a disappointment.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Actually, I think we had a very good three days, very productive three days, and it's something that we can build on and move forward.

KENYON: The intensity of the talks may have reflected the desire on the part of Kerry and the other ministers to salvage a deal with Iran, but it also underscored the pressure both sides are under to show results quickly before hardliners can mobilize to make things even more difficult. Kerry asked critics of this nuclear diplomacy to consider the alternative.

SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: Each day that you don't have an agreement, Iran will continue to enrich, Iran will continue its program. What we were looking to do here and will do, I believe, is freeze that program in place.

KENYON: Kerry says he believes an agreement can be reached in the coming weeks. Negotiators will return for more talks here in less than ten days. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Geneva.

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