Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that a final nuclear deal with the world powers at the end of marathon talks in Vienna would be “very close” while US officials keep their cautious position since they believe major issues remaining to be solved are still on the negotiation table.
"We have come a long way. We need to reach a peak and we're very close," the Iranian President said on Sunday during a breaking fast dinner (iftar) in Tehran.
“We are so close that if you look down from below you feel as if we have got there, but when you do get there you know there are still some steps to take," Rouhani said according to Iran’s Islamic Student News Agency (ISNA),quoting his Persian speech into English.
But Rouhani also warned that some steps still needed to be taken in order to finalise ongoing tortuous talks in Vienna.
"It might seem we have reached the top of the mountain. But no, there are still
steps needed to be taken,” the ISNA quoted him as saying. "Even if we fail ... we have performed our duty.”
"Thank God, I have kept my campaign promises for a settlement of the nuclear issue," he added.
When he came to power in 2013, Rouhani changed Iranian discourse on the nuclear program has and chosen to cooperate with the P5+ 1 countries, including the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.
After a 12-year of stand-off, Iran and the P5+1 group reached a preliminary framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland on April 2, which enhanced expectations about the signing of a final deal between the parties.
Iran and the US perceive a final nuclear agreement could ease the decades old tension since 1979 if the parties may agree, but there remain "several of the most difficult issues" that hamper the striking of a final deal, according to the US, represented by the Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna.
The US seemed wary despite the constructive ambiguity of the Iranian side as Kerry stated on Sunday that there were still some tough issues to be solved on the table.
"I think we're getting to some real decisions," Kerry told reporters.
"So I will say, because we have a few tough things to do, I remain hopeful. Hopeful," said Kerry.
"We had a very good meeting. Positive. I think we’re getting to some real decisions…we have a few tough things to do."
France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also expressed his optimism on Sunday as he said "this is the last phase of the marathon talks."
“You know the line which France took, it is a line of firm constructiveness and I hope it will help now to rapidly have a satisfactory result," Fabius told reporters.
However, some other US officials related to the talks also confirmed that major issues were still waiting to be solved with Tehran which has long been accused of producing nuclear weapons through its secret nuclear program.
"We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we're certainly not going to start now -- especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks," a senior US State Department official said on Sunday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif admitted that there were still some lingering issues for which they will continue to resolve on Monday.
"We still have got work to do tomorrow," Zarif told reporters from his hotel balcony. "No deal today," he shouted.
Iranian diplomat Alireza Miryousefi wrote on his Twitter account, by quoting a senior official from Tehran, saying that a deal on Sunday night was "logistically impossible."
Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that the technical aspects of a possible nuclear agreement are nearly complete.
"Technical discussions are almost over and the text regarding the technical issues with their annexes is almost finished," he was also quoted by the ISNA.
The Iran nuclear talks were extended from a self-imposed June 30 deadline to further into July, but the parties have progressed very slowly on the main gap that complicates the finalisation of the deal.
Iran demands an immediate removal of sanctions, as well as the release nearly 100 billion dollars worth of its assets around the world.
But, the West still persists that a complete removal of sanctions would depend on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) full-fledged access into Iran’s nuclear facilities and freely deliver a comprehensive report on its findings which will confirm or deny the allegations attributed to Tehran.
Last month, the IAEA reported Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with international investigators would cause a transparency problem.
The international watchdog said in its June monthly report on Iran that Tehran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas dropped below the maximum level required under the 2013 demands, but it insists upon a comprehensive investigation of the nuclear sites.
However, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei echoed the views of the hardline revolutionary guards who essentially objected to the IAEA’s access to Iran’s military sites.