VIENNA: Iran and major powers gave themselves at least until Friday to negotiate an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, but a source from one of the powers said on Tuesday they had to wrap up in the next 48 hours.
“We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said outside the hotel where the marathon talks between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States are taking place.
The spokeswoman for the U.S. delegation, Marie Harf, said the terms of an interim deal between Iran and the six would be extended through Friday to give negotiators a few more days to finish their work.
The negotiators had set Tuesday as a deadline when it became clear last week that a June 30 deadline would not be met. But despite a push in the past few days they made clear again that they still needed more time.
“We’re frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock, though we also know that difficult decisions won’t get any easier with time,” Harf said.
There was disagreement about whether the talks were in effect open-ended. U.S. officials hoped to wrap them up in time for a 4 a.m. GMT Friday (midnight EDT Thursday) deadline to secure an expedited review by the U.S. Congress, but it was unclear if that was possible.
“No deadline is sacrosanct for us,” senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi told reporter. “We are ready to stay in Vienna and continue talks as long as it is necessary.”
Western diplomats said they had not yet given up hope of making the deadline for the U.S. congressional review.
The source from one power, however, said there would be a time limit.
“We’ve come to the end,” said the source, on condition of anonymity. “We have just made one, final extension. It is hard to see how or why we would go beyond this. Either it happens in the next 48 hours, or not.”