Expert-level talks this week in New York about Iran's nuclear program were described as "useful" by participants, but obstacles remain, Reuters reports.
Representatives from Iran, the United States, France, China, Britain, Russia and Germany met on Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for a ministerial-level meeting slated for next week in Vienna. The upcoming gathering is anticipated as a major step toward a long-term agreement with Tehran, with Russia suggesting parties could begin producing a pact text.
A European Union spokesman used the word "useful" in characterizing the preliminary talks this week, as did Iranian nuclear negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad, who Reuters said was quoted by Iran's official IRNA news agency.
An unnamed Western diplomat said participants had made headway toward resolving a dispute over Iran's Arak reactor. Unless modified, the planned plant might generate sizable amounts of plutonium, which could be used in nuclear weapons.
Western officials have long accused Iran of pursuing an atomic-arms capability, though Tehran has denied this. The long-term deal currently being negotiated would force the Middle Eastern nation to alter its program in return for relief from international sanctions.
The unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters one of the remaining obstacles is securing an agreement about Tehran's uranium enrichment activities, which have potential applications for military as well as civilian use.