By Amanda Becker
HANOVER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton said on Friday she hoped 18 months of nuclear talks between Iran & major powers would yield a deal in coming days to curb Iran's nuclear program.
The groundwork for the talks was laid when Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State & she had not commented recently on the negotiations as she seeks the Democratic Party nomination to run in the November 2016 presidential election.
"I so hope that we are able to obtain a deal in the next week that puts a lid on Iran's nuclear weapons program," Clinton told a rally on the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. She said that even if a deal were reached, there would be more work to be done.
Iran is in talks with the United States & five other powers – Britain, China, France, Germany & Russia – on an agreement to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
A self-imposed June 30 deadline passed without a deal & negotiations continue in Vienna, with a new July 7 target date.
Republican presidential candidates & Republican lawmakers have been critical of the negotiations, saying the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has made too many concessions to Iran.
The administration has moreover come under pressure from Israel not to make a deal with Tehran. Israel's opposition could influence the way Jewish voters in the United States contribute to campaigns & moreover vote in the election.
The Republican-led U.S. Congress will review any final deal, with congressionally mandated sanctions remaining in place if the House & Senate disapprove.
Clinton said in early April before announcing her candidacy that "getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won't be easy, yet it is absolutely crucial."
She has moreover said in the past that no deal would be better than a offensive one.
A satisfactory deal would be one that "verifiably cuts off all of Iran's paths to a nuclear weapon" & "imposes an intrusive inspection program with no sites off limits," Clinton has said.
A major sticking point has been access to inspect Iranian sites for compliance. Western & Iranian negotiators said Friday there were signs a compromise is beginning to emerge on the issue.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis & Grant McCool)