Talks between Iran and Western powers regarding a comprehensive nuclear deal have been extended by seven months, a diplomat told the Associated Press on Monday - just as the original November 24 deadline approached.
According to the diplomat, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, the deal must be settled by March 1. A fully-fleshed out and detailed agreement must then be drafted four months later, on July 1.
Iran and six world powers are still holding talks in Vienna to hammer out the final details of the extension agreement, which followed previous reports on Sunday which indicated US Secretary of State John Kerry had offered Iran an extension.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday negotiators were still having "consultations" on a final agreement, including the US's demands for heavy restrictions on Iran's nuclear program as well as Iran's push against economic sanctions, according to Fox News.
While world leaders have said that Iran and the West have "never been closer" to an agreement, Israel has warned repeatedly that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has embarked on a "charm offensive" to buy time to continue building nuclear warheads.
The Islamic Republic hotly denies its nuclear program is meant to build a nuclear weapon, even though the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by the interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its program.
Iran has been toughening its stance in recent weeks. Iran’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, recently said he sees no prospect for a deal unless the other side abandons its “illogical excessive demands”.
A senior Iranian official followed those comments by declaring that Iran will demand that all Western sanctions be lifted as part of a final deal, rejecting an American proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions.