Iranian officials gave their strongest hints yet that talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program may stretch beyond a self-imposed June 30 deadline.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy, Abbas Araghchi, both said on Monday that differences with a group of world powers were unresolved and that a deal by the end of the month might not be possible.
“Political and technical differences remain,” Zarif said ahead of discussions with European diplomats at an EU summit in Luxembourg. “We’ve always tried to channel all our efforts into finalizing a deal at the first possible opportunity, but it’s more important that we reach a good agreement.”
Talks with envoys from the group of six world powers haven’t “progressed as much as we expected,” Araghchi was reported as saying by the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency. An extension may be needed to reach an “acceptable and desirable” accord, he said.
Iran and the six countries -- the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- are seeking to reach a final pact that would limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions that have hobbled its economy.
Access by the International Atomic Energy Agency to military sites where Iran is suspected of having conducted research on atomic weapons, and the mechanism of sanctions removal have been points of contention in the negotiations.
Iran denies its nuclear program has a military component.
Earlier deadlines during marathon rounds of diplomatic wrangling have been missed.