No nuclear deal this week, says Iran negotiator
Iran's chief negotiator at international talks on its nuclear programme said late on Saturday he did not think they could conclude this week, ahead of the country's June 18 presidential election.
Russia's representative at the talks made a similar point after emerging from talks in the Austrian capital Vienna, saying a few more weeks were required to finalise the existing text, according to a statement on Twitter.
"Personally, I don't think that we can manage to reach a conclusion this week," Iran's Abbas Aragchi told the Iranian state broadcaster after the sixth round of talks resumed in Vienna.
Iranians will vote on June 18 to elect a successor to President Hassan Rouhani, who has served the maximum two consecutive four-year terms allowed by the constitution.
Several analysts have already said it was unlikely any deal would be concluded before the election was over.
Representatives from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran are meeting in Vienna to bring the US back to the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran back into compliance with it.
The 2015 landmark accord has been hanging by a thread since US President Donald Trump took the United States out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions. That led Tehran to step up its nuclear activities, long curtailed by the deal.
US President Joe Biden has indicated a willingness to rejoin the agreement once it is sure Iran is willing to respect its commitments.
Negotiators from the US are taking part indirectly in the EU-chaired discussions in Vienna.
The remarks on Saturday came just days after the US said that it was lifting sanctions on three Iranian individuals and two companies, which Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said was not a sign of goodwill.
Sanctions were lifted from Ahmad Ghalebani, a managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, a managing director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moinie, a commercial director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.
The decision by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was not tied to the ongoing efforts to restart the Iran nuclear deal, but were a recognition of "a verified change in behaviour or status", an unnamed official told Reuters.
"Selective US delistings are neither related to JCPOA (nuclear accord) talks nor viewed as signals of goodwill - specially when coupled with renewed economic terrorism," said Khatibzadeh on Twitter, referring to fresh US sanctions announced on Thursday targeting a network that allegedly funds overseas elements of the the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Khatibzadeh reiterated Iran's demand from the recent nuclear deal talks and called on Washington to "effectively & verifiably" lift sanctions on Tehran.