Today had originally been envisioned as the culmination of a 20-month process to assure the world Iran cannot produce nuclear weapons, and provide the Iranian people a path out of of years of international isolation. We're not there. But Iran has complied with a key condition of the nuclear talks by significantly reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium that could be used for atomic weapons, diplomats said today. Its failure to do so would have severely undermined the US and other powers trying to clinch a long-term nuclear accord with Tehran over the next several days. The news came as the State Department announced the extension of an interim nuclear agreement that was set to expire tonight, the original deadline for a final deal, to July 7 "to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution," spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Under a preliminary deal reached in November 2013, Iran agreed to cap its stockpile of lower-enriched uranium at a little more than 7.6 tons and transform any remainder into a form that experts say would be difficult to reconvert for arms use. Although amounts were permitted to fluctuate, Iran had to fully comply by today. And as of only a month ago, the UN nuclear agency reported its stockpile at more than 8 tons, leading to fears that it would not meet the target. As for the final accord, officials said over the weekend they were nowhere near one. The US, France, and Iran have said there is no new target date for a deal, but that another in a series of long-term extensions wasn't being contemplated. American officials say the talks will likely stretch through the end of the week, possibly longer. (Read more Iran stories.)