Nuclear deal ‘very close’ says Iran’s Rouhani

Tehran (AFP) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday the conclusion of a nuclear deal with the major powers was “very close” after more than two weeks of intensive talks in Vienna.

“We have come a long way. We need to reach a peak and we’re very close,” he said at an iftar meal breaking the Ramadan dawn-to-dusk fast in Tehran.

Tortuous talks in Vienna towards a historic Iran nuclear deal on Sunday entered what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he believed was the “final phase”, but with Tehran warning that “political will” was still needed.

“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,” the ISNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying.

“Thank God, I have kept my campaign promises for a settlement of the nuclear issue,” he added.

Before his election as president in June 2013, Rouhani vowed to reach an agreement with the P5+1 group, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

For 16 days, negotiators have been meeting in the Austrian capital to try to agree on a historic deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear activities and make it extremely difficult for Tehran — which denies any such aim — to develop the atomic bomb.

In return, Iran will be granted staggered relief from sanctions, although the six powers are insisting they retain the option to reimpose the measures if Tehran violates the deal.

The negotiations had originally been due to end on June 30, but the latest effective deadline for an accord is now Monday.