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Progress toward Iran nuclear deal, but issues remain: US official

Progress toward Iran nuclear deal, but issues remain: US official

FILE PHOTO: An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

WASHINGTON: Negotiators have made significant progress in the last week or so on an agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but very tough issues remain, a senior US State Department official said on Friday (Feb 25).

"There's been significant progress over the last week or two. We have significantly narrowed the areas that still need to be resolved. And so, in that sense, there has been progress that has been moving towards a potential deal," he told reporters.

"So we are in a better position than we have been. But at the same time it's important to note that very serious issues remain."

The aim of the negotiations is to return to the original 2015 bargain of lifting sanctions against Iran, including ones that have slashed its oil sales, in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities that extend the time Tehran would need to make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb if it chose to.

Iran has long denied such an ambition and has said that its nuclear program is for solely peaceful purposes.

Iran's lead negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, has gone back to Tehran and the senior US official said he hoped the Iranian official would return to Vienna, where the talks are held, in a positive frame of mind. However, he said that there would still be some issues to settle even after Bagheri Kani's return.

The US official also said that there has not been any deal reached in separate negotiations about the release of four US citizens whom the United States believes have been wrongfully detained by Iran.

Source: Reuters

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