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Jul 16, 6:23 PM EDT

Obama: Significant gaps on Iran nuclear talks


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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there are "still significant gaps" and more work to do to reach a deal to get Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Iran and six world powers have tentatively decided to adjourn their nuclear talks two days early but plan to extend them past their planned July 20 end date, diplomats said Wednesday. The diplomats demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge confidential information.

The president said he will consult with Congress and allies to determine whether negotiations need to be extended after the July 20 deadline.

"Over the last six months, Iran has met its commitments under the interim deal we reached last year, halting progress on its nuclear program, allowing more inspections and rolling back its most dangerous stockpile of nuclear materials," Obama said.

Obama said that based on consultations with Secretary of State John Kerry and his national security team progress has been made in several areas and that there is a way forward toward reaching a comprehensive agreement with Tehran.

The talks aim at a deal that curbs Iran's atomic programs in exchange for an end to the nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Kerry spoke of "very real gaps" Tuesday after two days of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Kerry and President Barack Obama were meeting Wednesday to discuss the "path forward" on the talks.

Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are also participating.

The main dispute is over uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Iran says it does not want such weapons. Up to last week, it insisted being allowed to expand its enrichment program over the next eight years to a level that would need about 190,000 current model centrifuges.

It now has about 20,000 centrifuges, with half of them operating. Iranian officials have recently signaled they are ready to freeze that number for now. But Kerry said Tuesday that Washington has made it "crystal clear" that even 10,000 are too many.

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Associated Press writer George Jahn in Vienna contributed to this report.

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