The United States and Iran said they were prepared to work past a midnight deadline into Wednesday on a nuclear deal between Iran and global powers.
The deadline for negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, a group of nations that includes the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany, is midnight Tuesday in Switzerland, where the talks are being held.
The West wants to ensure that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons. Iran wants to end international sanctions that are crippling its economy.
The P5+1 group wants Iran to ship fissile material out of the country to Russia, but Iran has backed away from a tentative agreement to do this.
Iran wants all sanctions to be lifted quickly and completely if a deal is reached. The P5+1 wants them lifted gradually, with restrictions on nuclear-related technology maintained for years.
Iran currently has about 18,000 centrifuges used to turn natural uranium into enriched uranium. An estimated 10,000 of these are currently in operation. Under a deal, Iran would likely have to accept a reduction in the centrifuges it uses to about 6,000.
A deal would strictly limit Iran's nuclear activities for 10 years. After that, Iran wants those limits to be lifted. The P5+1 would lift them gradually over a period of five years.
The U.S. is worried that if a deal is not struck, Iran may soon be only a few months away from being able to make a nuclear weapon. The U.S. wants to ensure that
Iran's breakout time to a nuclear weapon can be held to a year. And American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia want an even longer window.
U.S. State Department officials indicated earlier on Tuesday that they would be willing to work past the deadline if it appeared that progress was being made.
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