Negotiations between Iran and the West over Tehran’s long-standing nuclear deadlock could go further beyond the June 30 deadline which was aiming to strike a final deal, the US side echoed on Sunday.
"We've said that these talks could go beyond June 30th for a few days if we need some additional time," a senior US administration official said.
"I think it's fair to say the parties are planning to stay past the 30th to keep negotiating." he reiterated.
The US official, whose name was declined to be mentioned by reporters, said on Sunday that the make-or-break talks with Iran, which had already produced a tentative framework agreement in early April, are all "planning to stay past" the self-imposed June 30 deadline to reach a final deal.
"I think just given the date, and the fact that we still have more work to do, ministers coming and going, which is a good thing if they need to go back to capitals and get more guidance, the parties are planning to remain in Vienna continually working past June 30th to keep negotiating," the US official said.
The West has long been blaming Iran of seeking to obtain nuclear bombs through its massive nuclear activities, but Tehran denies all allegations and accusations and says its nuclear programme would aim to meet civilian needs of energy demands.
After a decade of deadlock, Iran and the P5+1 group -the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany- had reached a preliminary framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland on April 2.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif returned to Tehran from Vienna on Sunday in order to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the talks were knotted with the world powers.
"Zarif will return to Tehran tonight and will come back to Vienna tomorrow," Iran’s Tasnim news agency said by citing an unnamed Iranian official.
At the weekend, the Iranian side also seemed eager to extend the talks which have produced limited results on the final deal since April when the parties agreed on general measures of the Iranian nuclear programme.
“The time is not important, what is important is reaching a good deal,” Iranian FM Zarif said on Saturday.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araghcbi confirmed on Saturday that the talks might be postponed since they still need some time to resolve certain issues regarding the signing of the final agreement.
However, the top European officials still keep little optimism and tough stance on the necessity of striking a deal as the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Sunday that the talks between Iran and the P5 +1 could possibly produce expected results.
"If all negotiating parties have strong political will in these last moments, we can make it," Mogherini said in a tweet from the negotiations in Vienna.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned the parties to accelerate their efforts ahead of the deadline and wanted a fair deal what he called would be better than a bad deal.
"No deal is better than a bad deal. There are red lines that we cannot cross and some very difficult decisions and tough choices are going to have to be made by all of us," Hammond told reporters.
Iran’s nuclear talks were said to have knotted around Tehran’s unwillingness to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the watchdog insists upon a comprehensive investigation of the nuclear sites whereas Iran demands an immediate removal of the sanctions.
Earlier this month, the IAEA reported that Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with the international investigators would cause a transparency problem, without that the watchdog said it cannot "conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."
The international nuclear watchdog urged Tehran on more cooperation and willingness for its investigation on the nuclear issue until the 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 necessity of prospective final agreement with the West.
Khamenei ruled out such a move to interrupt Iran’s nuclear facilities on which Tehran and the West have long been disputing as he regarded the Western imposition as “unacceptable” to implement for a long time.
"Inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines," Khamenei said when he echoed the views of hardline revolutionary guards who essentially objected to the IAEA’s access to the Iran’s military sites.
The preiminary deal reached in Switzerland between the parties specifies that Iran will decrease 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 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 was put into force.