Make-or-break nuclear negotiations ramped up a gear Wednesday with the head of the UN nuclear watchdog set to fly to Iran for talks after the deadline to reach a deal was extended.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was also due to return to Vienna on Thursday along with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, while his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi is also planning to joining this round of talks for the first time, a French diplomat said.
With a new deadline now set for July 7, different diplomatic sources confirmed to AFP that Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), would leave for Tehran later in the day.
Teams of experts have been working virtually around the clock for weeks to try to hammer out a deal which would put a nuclear bomb out of Iran`s reach in return for lifting a labyrinth of biting EU, US and UN sanctions.
One sticking point has been ensuring access for IAEA inspectors to Iranian military sites to verify whether in the past or present Iran has sought to develop nuclear weapons.
Iranian leaders have vehemently denied such accusations, but have bristled at the notion of allowing unimpeded access to sensitive military sites, or IAEA interviews with its nuclear scientists.
In a sign of a possible breakthrough, Iranian media said Amano, who has been closely involved in this week`s negotiations between global powers and Iran in Vienna, would meet on Thursday in Tehran with President Hassan Rouhani and the chairman of Iran`s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani.