Six world powers and Iran have agreed to a seven-month extension for negotiations over the Iranian nuclear programme.
The world leaders are the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany. They want to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions imposed on the country.
International negotiators have been concerned that Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop weapons, but Iran has insisted its nuclear programme is aimed at peaceful purposes, such as power generation.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the agreement was close, while US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that both parties had to agree on several points, according to the BBC.
The six world powers have been holding talks with Iran to finalise a preliminary deal, which was achieved in Geneva in 2013.
The countries now aim to reach an agreement by 1 March 2015, and confirm the deal’s complete technical details by 1 July 2015.
During this period, Iran will be allowed to have access to $700m a month in frozen assets.
In an interview which was broadcast on state television, President Rouhani said the gap between the two sides had significantly narrowed following the latest round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
He said: "It is true that we could not reach an agreement but we can still say that big steps have been taken."
Kerry took a more cautious approach and said that talks have seen a ‘substantial progress’ but there are still some major points of disagreement.
Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Kerry added: "These talks are not going to get easier just because we extend them. They’re tough. They’ve been tough. And they’re going to stay tough."
Image: In 2014, Iran announced that Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor will begin nuclear operation. Photo: courtesy of Nanking2012.