A senior U.S. official says "very serious gaps" remain in the nuclear talks between major world powers and Iran aimed at reaching a lasting deal over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The official, who spoke ahead of a new round of talks between the world powers and Iran in Vienna, said it wasn’t clear if the differences would be overcome by a November 24 deadline.
“We have continued to make progress in the course of these negotiations but we still have gaps to close. And we do not yet know if we will be able to do so,” the official said.
The official also said that an extension of the deadline for reaching a deal has not been discussed “at this point.”
Several Western officials say it is unclear if Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given his negotiating team the authority to make compromises.
The talks have been stalled for months over Iran's opposition to sharply reducing the size and output of centrifuges that can enrich uranium both to levels needed for reactor fuel or the core of nuclear warheads.
U.S., EU, and UN sanctions have caused Iranian oil revenues to plummet and inflation and unemployment to soar.
Iran denies Western charges it is using its nuclear program to secretly develop nuclear weapons.
But a report on November 7 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was failing to address suspicions it may have worked on designing a nuclear bomb.
Ambassador Laura Kennedy, the U.S. envoy to the Vienna-based IAEA, told reporters on November 17 that Washington is disappointed with Iran's failure to engage with the IAEA probe.
Kennedy said she would convey "our concerns with Iran's failure to engage substantively with the agency on the possible military dimensions issue" in a statement to the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors, which convenes on November 20.
With reporting by Reuters and dpa