Nuclear talks between Iran and the international community that could lift crude export sanctions were extended Wednesday after a deal failed to materialize before a Tuesday night deadline.
Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqch said oil sanctions are a key sticking point in the negotiations.
“We insist that the lifting of financial, bank and oil industry sanctions was the first step and on a clear roadmap for lifting the rest of the sanction,” Araqch told the Russian Times.
Western sanctions against Iran have restricted crude exports to 1 million barrels a day from a high of 2.5 million barrels per day since 2012.
Foreign ministers from France, China and Russia have left Switzerland, where the negotiations are being held, but will return if necessary.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that despite opposition from some Congressional members the United States will continue to move forward with negotiations.
“Obviously, we always are planning for contingencies and we will have to have some more policy conversations inside our administration, look at where we are with Iran, look at where the talks are, and make decisions about what will happen next,” Harf said during a press conference on Monday.
Negotiators from six international powers are hoping to fashion a framework deal that would allow Iran to enrich and possibly stockpile nuclear material.
If the framework deal is successful a final agreement could be signed in June, the Russian Times said.
“It is at such moment that we need to maintain composure, consolidate confidence and meet each other half way, and only by doing so can we prevent from falling short of success at the last stage,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
Investors are concerned that a nuclear deal could flood already swollen crude inventories with even more oil.
According to OPEC Iran currently produces about 3.5 million barrels of crude per day.
Earlier this month U.S crude stores hit 448.9 billion barrels excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an 80 year high, thanks in part to the nearly 1 million extra barrels per day the U.S. has been adding to stores through production and importing.