Iran won't accept 'last-minute demands' in nuke talks

Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not give in to any last-minute demands from the United States and its allies in negotiations on its nuclear program.

Negotiators face a July 20 deadline for reaching a final deal that would prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and lift sanctions on the country. Talks are set to resume in Vienna on Wednesday between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France and China.

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Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, and says it is looking for a deal that would lift sanctions but would allow it to keep a civilian nuclear program in place.

“As we approach July 20, I feel compelled to warn again that pursing a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last-minute concessions cannot achieve anything better than what was achieved in 2005,” Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said in a nearly five-minute-long video message posted on YouTube.

He argued that a previous effort in 2005 to reach a deal had been "torpedoed" by the Bush administration, which he said demanded that Iran give up all rights to enrich uranium, even for civilian use.

Zarif said Iran is committed to taking “concrete measures” to ensure its nuclear program “will always remain peaceful.”

“We still have time to end the myth that Iran is seeking to build a bomb,” he said.

“We are trying to reach a deal. Not a good deal or a bad deal, but a doable and lasting deal. And any deal by definition is the outcome of mutual understanding, not imposition by one side or the other.”

The Obama administration is under heavy pressure to ensure any deal with Iran really curtails its ability to get atomic weapons.

Some lawmakers and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have pressed the administration to insist on "zero enrichment" of uranium by Iran, something President Obama has said is unrealistic.

“It is my strong belief that we can envision an end state that gives us an assurance that, even if they have some modest enrichment capability, it is so constrained and the inspections are so intrusive that they, as a practical matter, do not have breakout capacity,” the president said in December.

Zarif’s message comes just days after Secretary of State John Kerry stressed in an op-ed that time is running out to achieve a deal.

Kerry said it’s now up to Iran to agree to a series of proposed verifiable measures that would guarantee Iran’s program is used for peaceful purposes. In exchange, he said, Iran would earn phased relief from nuclear-related sanctions.