White House Confident Deal Reachable

White House Confident Deal ReachableWhite House Confident Deal Reachable

The Obama administration's effort to reach a final nuclear agreement with Iran slipped past its deadline on Tuesday, though a US official expressed confidence a deal is within reach.

"Our negotiators will remain in Vienna past the deadline in pursuit of a final agreement," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told journalists on Monday, the Hill reported.

Earnest declined to handicap the chances of reaching a deal, but said a final agreement "is within our sights."

"I would hesitate to put numbers on it at this point," he said. "Obviously our negotiators understand the stakes in the negotiations."

The administration previously aimed to have a final agreement completed by June 30, capping off a nearly two-year effort to seal a deal to resolve the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

Iran and its international negotiating partners (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) are finalizing technical language on a framework deal reached in April, that would place limits on Teheran's nuclear activities for specified durations in exchange for international sanctions relief.

But negotiators meeting in Vienna have faced several last-minute stumbling blocks, including the pace of sanctions relief and the scope of inspections on Iran's nuclear sites.  Earnest said US negotiators are willing to talk for a few more days but reiterated President Barack Obama would be willing to walk away from a deal that does not ensure Iran's nuclear work will remain peaceful. Iran denies it may have been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying its program is only for peaceful applications.  

"If the Iranians refuse to agree to a final agreement that is consistent with the framework that was reached in April, then there won't be an agreement," Earnest said.