Iran and six world powers work to break an impasse in negotiations in Switzerland for a deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions against Tehran. David Pollard reports.
As the clock ticked down to a midnight deadline, both sides in the Iran nuclear talks were asking whether 12 years of standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions could, finally, be resolved in as many hours. The U.S., Britain and France, along with Germany, Russia and China have been working to break an impasse in the negotiations. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov upbeat on the prospect of a deal. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: ''The chances are high. They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything.'' Markets too are excited at what some see as future opportunities in Iran, according to FX Pro's Angus Campbell. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT FX PRO ANGUS CAMPBELL, SAYING: ''It is a frontier market. It has the potential to really open up and grow quite significantly. So I think net net any raising or removal of sanctions would be a good thing, certainly for the long term.'' Sanctions have halved Iran's oil exports to just over a million barrels a day since 2012 - and hammered its economy. If lifted, one of the world's largest producers could inject even more supplies into a global economy awash with cheap oil. Some reports suggest Iran has at least 30 million barrels stored on its fleet of supertankers, ready for immediate distribution. Oil prices over the last year have virtually halved. And as the talks progressed into their final hours, were down 2.5 per cent on the previous day. Though some were asking if that was an overreaction. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT FX PRO ANGUS CAMPBELL, SAYING: ''The global economy is slowing. This is why we saw global oil prices plummet throughout last year and the beginning of this year. So really, I think the Iran situation is a bit of a sideshow when looking at the wider picture for oil prices, which, as I say, upside looks pretty limited.'' The goal of the negotiations is to limit Iran's capacity to build atomic weapons. If successful, they would go into a further round of discussions on the details of a deal. The deadline for that: the end of June. Potential sticking points are how quickly sanctions could be lifted. And what Iran would be allowed to do in its nuclear programme beyond an initial ten years. Some on the sidelines of the talks warning that one distinct possibility still lay open: that there would be no deal at all.