Iran finished expert talks with six other countries on obstacles to ending an entrenched nuclear dispute by July, the Islamic Republic News Agency reports.
“The Wednesday and Thursday intensive, technical negotiations were focused on technical details, which were surveyed painstakingly,” Hamid Baeedinejad, Iran’s top delegate to the two-day meeting in Vienna, said in comments reported by the state-run news organization.
“The results of this technical round of talks will be delivered to the top officials of the two sides,” the Iranian envoy said.
The gathering was intended as preparation for a higher-level meeting of Iranian diplomats and their counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Those officials, who are slated to begin several days of talks on June 16, are pursuing an agreement that would grant Tehran sanctions relief in return for potentially limiting activities feared in Washington and other capitals to be geared toward nuclear-weapons development.
Their most recent high-level meeting concluded in May with neither side reporting significant progress, despite their stated aim to reach a long-term deal before an interim accord is scheduled to expire on July 20.
Tehran reportedly dug in on demands last month for robust nuclear capabilities under a potential deal, in part by pressing to retain uranium-enrichment systems sufficient to fuel its domestic nuclear power plant. Negotiators from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany have resisted such calls, citing the potential for the equipment to alternatively generate higher-purity uranium for nuclear bombs.
Iran may also have taken a hard stance last month on plans for its unfinished heavy-water reactor. Other countries have aired concerns over the Arak site’s potential to generate weapon-usable plutonium once activated.
What We're Following See More »
First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."
"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."
"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."
"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.