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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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.