Foreign Ministers from the P5+1 nations -- Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Wang Yi of China, Baroness Catherine Ashton of the European Union, Laurent Fabius of France, Philip Hammond of the United Kingdom, John Kerry of the United States, and Sergey Lavrov of Russia -- stand before photographers for a "family photo" in Vienna, Austria, on November 24, 2014, amid multilateral negotiations with Iran about the future of its nuclear program. U.S. Dept. of State
VIENNA, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- After the deadline to reach a comprehensive Iranian nuclear agreement expired at midnight Monday in Vienna, international negotiators said that talks would continue in the months ahead.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the inability to reach agreement was "a disappointment, but rather than continue blindly we have to recognize the reality that we're not going to make a deal tonight."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that talks would continue in December, explaining that the decision to extend the talks was made jointly by all parties based on the "real and substantial progress" reached in Vienna.
It is unclear what gaps remain.
The talks are to be extended for seven months, Kerry said at a press conference, with the "very specific goal of finishing the political agreement within four months and with the understanding that we will go to work immediately, meet again very shortly, and if we can do it sooner, we want to do it sooner."
Kerry cautioned that P5+1 delegates "cannot negotiate with Iran forever," acknowledging the talks "are not going to get easier just because we extend them ... they're going to stay tough."
"At the end of four months, if we have not agreed to the major elements by that point in time and there is no clear path, then we can revisit how we then want to proceed."
Delegates from Iran and the the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany -- have been in engaged in year-long negotiations. Monday's extension marks the second time the deadline has been moved. In July, Iran and the P5+1 countries decided to extend the talks for an additional four months.