Iran said on Friday a pause in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal may create “momentum” for resolving any remaining issues.
"Pause in Vienna talks could be a momentum for resolving any remaining issue and a final return. Successful conclusion of talks will be the main focus of all," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter. "No external factor will affect our joint will to go forward for a collective agreement."
Khatibzadeh’s tweet came hours after the European Union's foreign policy chief said participants in the Vienna talks would take a pause in the talks due to "external factors".
"A pause in [the] Vienna talks is needed, due to external factors," Josep Borrell said on Twitter. "A final text is essentially ready and on the table."
"As coordinator, I will, with my team, continue to be in touch with all JCPOA participants and the US to overcome the current situation and to close the agreement," Borrell said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The current round of negotiations started in late November between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, with the US taking part indirectly.
Their aim was to revive the JCPOA which began unravelling when former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed and reinforced tough sanctions on Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday the United States had made extra demands and blamed it for working to "complicate" efforts to restore the JCPOA.
"There is no rational justification for some of the new demands made by the United States, and it contradicts the country's position on reaching an agreement swiftly," Amir-Abdollahian said in a phone call with Borrell.
He did not specify the demands, but said "the US cannot pass on a new and different message to us every day through the coordinator".
In a tweet later in the day, Iran’s top diplomat urged the US to be realistic in joint efforts to bring the JCPOA back to life.
“Efforts to reach a good and durable agreement continue; it is within reach if US acts realistically and consistently,” he said. “No single party can determine the end result; a joint endeavor is needed. Reason should prevail”.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran's top security official Ali Shamkhani tweeted, “The Vienna negotiations are becoming more complicated every hour without a political decision by the United States.”
“US approach to Iran’s principled demands, coupled with its unreasonable offers and unjustified pressure to hastily reach an agreement, show that US isn't interested in a strong deal that would satisfy both parties,” he added.
The United States reaffirmed that a deal remained close and could be reached “in the coming days”.
“It’s really down to a very small number of outstanding issues,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference on Thursday, AFP reported.
“But the reason these particular issues are outstanding is because they are among the most difficult ones.”
“We’ve urged all parties… to focus on resolving the final remaining issues,” Price told reporters.
Russia has said it wants written assurances from the US that sanctions imposed on it over the conflict in Ukraine would not affect its economic and military cooperation with Iran.
The United States has described Russia’s new demands as “irrelevant”, while France warned they could dash hopes for a revived nuclear accord.
“Some people are trying to blame us for protracting the talks. I must tell you that the talks have not yet been finalized, even the text of a final agreement is not yet finalized,” Russian chief negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said.
“Like any other participant we have the right to ask for something... It’s normal business,” he added.
As with the original JCPOA in 2015, Moscow had been expected to play a role in the implementation of any fresh deal, for example, by receiving shipments of enriched uranium from Iran.