Report: P5+1 Talks May Continue Past Deadline

Report: P5+1 Talks May Continue Past DeadlineReport: P5+1 Talks May Continue Past Deadline

The Iran nuclear negotiations are getting increasingly difficult as diplomats stare down a fast-approaching deadline at the end of the month that officials say may need to be extended.

A senior US official and a western diplomat downplayed a report from the Russian news agency TASS, which quoted a diplomat as saying talks are "virtually stalled." The two officials instead told CNN on Friday that the negotiations are tough, as expected, but continue to move forward.

But the two sources said the talks are at a delicate moment and that negotiations may have to be extended a few days past the June 30 deadline. Nobody in the room is yet talking about a full-scale extension, they added.

The P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program. In April the parties reached a framework to hash out the details of a final deal.

Sanctions relief for Iran and the level of access inspectors will have in the country continue to be major sticking points in the negotiations.

Iran wants near immediate sanctions relief, while western officials are wary of lifting sanctions quickly as they keep an eye on Iran's activities in the early months after a deal is reached.

Western diplomats are also pushing for unprecedented levels of access that would allow international inspectors to visit any facility in Iran suspected of nuclear activity, including military sites. Tehran has strongly pushed back on that level of access, looking to keep military sites off limits.

The six major powers also want Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency's probe into what it calls possible military dimensions to Tehran's nuclear program. Although it seems unlikely that the issue will be fully resolved before any deal is reached, US officials and European diplomats insist sanctions relief will be tied to Iran satisfying questions from the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran denies the allegation that it may have been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian program, saying the work is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and medical research.

One incentive the sides have to reach an agreement by the deadline or shortly thereafter is that the skeptical US Congress will have 30 days to review a final nuclear deal with Iran, but the period will be doubled if a deal is not reached by July 9.