“We are trying hard to make progress and remain fully engaged to achieve a comprehensive solution” by the November 24 deadline, Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said in a Thursday statement after high-level negotiations between the two sides in Vienna.
“Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase,” the statement added.
Sources close to the Iranian negotiating team say the main stumbling block in the way of resolving Western disputes over Iran’s nuclear program remains to be the removal of all sanctions and not the number of centrifuges or the level of enrichment.
Tehran wants sanctions entirely lifted while the US, under pressure from the pro-Israeli lobby, insists that at least the UN-imposed sanctions against Iran should remain in place.
Iran and the six powers – the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany – are in talks to work out a final deal aimed at ending the longstanding dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Last November, the two sides clinched an interim nuclear accord, which took effect on January 20 and expired six months later. However, they agreed to extend their talks until November 24 as they remained divided on a number of key issues.