Iran and six governments said they held “substantive and detailed discussions” on all elements of a possible nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Still, “intensive work will be required to overcome [remaining] differences,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton added in shared remarks issued on Wednesday, as they ended a two-day multilateral atomic meeting.
Ashton, who represents the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, said the sides would meet again on May 13.
On Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said his country’s negotiators had “narrowed” their differences with counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, Agence France-Presse reports. He did not elaborate on specific developments in the talks, aimed at striking a deal to eliminate international sanctions on Iran if the Persian Gulf power accepts long-term limits on its atomic activities.
Amid reports of possible progress in a dispute over Iran’s unfinished heavy-water reactor, Araqchi stressed that his country would only consider certain moves to assuage fears that the site could generate bomb-usable plutonium, Reuters reported. Tehran insists the Arak reactor and its other atomic assets have strictly peaceful aims, but that contention faces skepticism in Washington and European capitals.
“Arak will remain [a] heavy-water reactor … but there are technical ways to decrease concerns over its activities,” he said.
The Iranian diplomat added that his country “will not stop or suspend its uranium enrichment work under any circumstances.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran is now situated to produce enough fuel for a nuclear weapon in two months, AFP reported.
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The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.
"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."