Iran says it is now impossible to reach a deal by Monday’s deadline to reach a comprehensive deal with world powers aimed at resolving the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported on Sunday.
“Considering the short time left until the deadline and number of issues that needed to be discussed and resolved, it is impossible to reach a final and comprehensive deal by November 24,” ISNA quoted an unnamed member of Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna as saying.
An Iranian diplomatic source said extension of Tehran’s nuclear talks with six major world powers beyond the Monday deadline is not on the agenda of Vienna discussions.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China began a final round of talks with Iran on Tuesday, looking to clinch a pact under which Tehran would curb its nuclear work in exchange for lifting economically crippling sanctions.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his US counterpart John Kerry and EU nuclear negotiator Catherine Ashton held another meeting at Vienna’s Coburg Hotel.
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Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi also held talks with delegates from China and the US as well as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Ashton’s deputy Helga Schmid.
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Later on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is slated to head to the Austrian capital to join the nuclear negotiations.
The parties have been holding talks in Vienna over the past six days to hammer out a comprehensive deal on Tehran’s nuclear energy program. Diplomats say the two sides have made progress but big gaps still remain.
Last November, Iran and the P5+1 – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany — clinched an interim nuclear accord that took effect on January 20 and expired six months later. They agreed to extend their talks until November 24 as they remained divided on a number of key issues.
Sources close to the Iranian negotiating team say the main stumbling block in the way of resolving the Western dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program remains to be the removal of all the bans imposed on the country, and not the number of centrifuges or the level of uranium enrichment.
Iran’s Press TV reported Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing to work to derail the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries:
“It is preferable that there be no deal than a bad deal that would threaten Israel, the Middle East and all of humanity,” Netanyahu said in an address to Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
He further rehashed his aggressive rhetoric against Iran and said that Tel Aviv was in contact with the US and other members of the P5+1.
The Israeli premier said Tel Aviv is “closely following the talks in Vienna” and noted that US Secretary of State John Kerry briefed him Saturday night on the nuclear negotiations.
Netanyahu has repeatedly sought to derail Iran-P5+1 nuclear negotiations by making biased remarks.
The Israeli regime, which refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East. The regime reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads.
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