(Adds quotes from Obama, background on Iran)
WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday extending the March deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran would not be useful if Iran does not agree to a basic framework that assures world powers it is not pursuing nuclear arms.
“At this juncture I don’t see a further extension being useful if they have not agreed to the basic formulation and the bottom-line that the world requires to have confidence that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon,” he said at the White House after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Obama said if the framework for a deal were agreed and “people have a clear sense of what is required, and there’s some drafting” required, that would be a different issue.
“We now know enough that the issues are no longer technical,” he said. “The issues now are: does Iran have the political will and the desire to get a deal done?”
Iran’s supreme leader said on Sunday he could accept a compromise in nuclear talks and said he would “firmly” back a fair deal.
Negotiators have set a June 30 final deadline for an accord, and Western officials have said they aim to agree on the substance of that deal by March.
The nuclear talks with Iran are being conducted by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.
“We’re at a point where they need to make a decision,” Obama said of Iran.
“There should be the possibility of getting a deal. They should be able to get to ‘yes.’ But we don’t know if that’s going to happen. They have their hard-liners, they have their politics.” (Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Jeff Mason; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)