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Rouhani upbeat on chances for nuclear deal

(JTA) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he expects an accord on Iran’s nuclear program to be signed by the July 20 deadline.

Rouhani said a deal on curbing the nuclear program negotiated between Iran and six world powers was “very likely,” according to the French news agency AFP. He was confident despite an apparent deadlock between his country and the P5+1 powers — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia — in the latest round of negotiations.

The Iranian leader called for possibly extending the deadline, and criticized unnamed countries for trying to hamper the talks’ progress.

“There are certain countries behind the scenes that want to create problems,” Rouhani said, according to AFP. “If they are not given a chance to sabotage talks, then we have enough time to achieve the ultimate success.”

The sides are negotiating an accord to limit the scope of the nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against Iran. An interim deal struck in December froze the nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. While much of the world believes Iran intends to produce a nuclear weapon, Iran insists the program is for civilian purposes.

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