Iranian officials said on Wednesday that the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, will be in Tehran on Thursday to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other officials. It comes as the deadline for implementing a final nuclear deal has been extended to June 7, diplomats told AFP.
"Amano will meet Rouhani and [the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council] Ali Shamkhani during his Tehran visit," an official said.
"The goal of Yukiya Amano's trip is to talk about past activities and receive Iran's suggestions on how to resolve the differences," a source close to the Iranian negotiating team said, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA.
The June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal has been missed. Iran and the six world powers it is negotiating a deal are attempting to speed up the ongoing negotiations, with both sides cautioning that major obstacles to a final agreement are not yet solved.
The Vienna talks will continue as long as required until a final deal is implemented, diplomats said. The deal is expected to halt economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits to Iran’s nuclear activities.
The West has long accused Iran of seeking to obtain nuclear weapons through its nuclear research and development programme, but Tehran has denied all such allegations and says its nuclear programme is aimed at meeting civilian needs and energy demands.
After a decade of deadlock, Iran and the P5+1 group - the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany - reached a preliminary framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland on April 2.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif went on Sunday to Tehran for consultations with Iran’s leadership. US Secretary of State John Kerry has remained in Vienna awaiting Zarif’s return and the arrival of foreign ministers from France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China.
A senior US administration official told reporters that "There are real and tough issues that remain which have to be resolved in order to get the comprehensive agreement, and we still do not know yet whether we will be able to get there."
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have been working into the night with Iran for more than a week, attempting to reach a deal that all sides can agree to.
If a deal is reached by July 9, there will be a mandatory 30 day congressional review period before President Barack Obama can begin suspending sanctions. If the deal is reached later, the review will last 60 days, with increasing risks that there will be congressional moves that could kill the deal.
The pace and timing of sanctions relief for Iran are the main points of contentions between the country and its negotiating partners, as well as the nature of monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with the deal.
The main issue currently delaying the deal is Western demands for the UN inspectors to be given access to Iranian nuclear scientists as well as military sites.
Access to military sites is a red line set by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but Western diplomats say they are close to reaching a resolution.
The six world powers negotiating with Iran wish to confirm that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have the required access, but the Iranians are resisting wide monitoring, thus delaying an agreement.
Earlier this month the IAEA warned that Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with international investigators would cause a transparency problem, and that without the ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites the watchdog could not "conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."
The international nuclear watchdog urged Tehran to be more cooperative regarding its investigation into the nuclear issue until punitive sanctions imposed by the West are completely lifted following a prospective final deal.
Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed freezing of the country’s long-standing nuclear programme for a long period of time as a necessary for agreeing to a prospective final agreement with the West.
"Inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines," Khamenei said, echoing the views of Iran’s hardline paramilitary revolutionary guards who essentially object to the IAEA having access to the Iran’s military sites.
The preliminary deal reached in Switzerland between the parties specifies that Iran will dispose of two thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges and limits the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent, which would prevent Iran from making a nuclear bomb. Many of the restrictions will expire in 15 years.
The deal also decreases Iranian uranium stockpiles from 10,000 kilograms to 300, which will be enriched only by the Arak Nuclear Reactor under the inspection of the IAEA.
In return, the 10-year-deal promises Iran that all UN sanctions on Tehran will end with Iran’s fulfilment of the criteria within a planned calendar, after a prospective final deal is put into force.