Iran and the six major powers are closer than ever to reaching a nuclear agreement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed on Friday.
"We are ready to strike a balanced and good deal and open new horizons to address important common challenges," he said in a statement broadcast on YouTube and was quoted by Reuters.
"We have never been closer to a lasting outcome," added Zarif.
Iran and the six major powers had originally set a deadline of June 30 to reach a final deal, but when they failed to meet that deadline, they agreed to extend the deadline to July 7, this coming Tuesday.
"We are coming to the end," a senior Western diplomat told Reuters Friday, adding there was no plan to carry on for long past next Tuesday. "Either we get an agreement or we don't."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, said there was more work to be done but parties were making an effort.
"We are making progress," Kerry said.
Russia's chief negotiator Sergei Ryabkov said the text of the agreement was more than 90 percent complete. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi voiced confidence that the parties would reach a mutually acceptable accord, according to Reuters.
Several major sticking points remain in talks, such as Iran's refusal to allow inspectors in to investigate its secretive nuclear facilities or come clean on the military nature of its nuclear program. Likewise Iran is demanding all sanctions be lifted as soon as a deal is reached.
Experts have warned that the current sanctions regime against Iran has not been tough enough to provide a deterrent to Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror. Just this Monday Iranian officials announced that 13 tons of gold had been repatriated as part of sanctions relief, bringing the total in unfrozen assets since the November 2013 interim deal was signed to just under $12 billion.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)