No Agreement on Key Nuclear Issues

No Agreement on Key Nuclear IssuesNo Agreement on Key Nuclear Issues

A foreign ministry official denied the report that Iran and the major powers have reached tentative agreement on some key issues in their talks on a final nuclear deal.

"No agreement has been reached on any issue that is under discussion in the nuclear negotiations," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham said on Saturday, according to a press release.

"Such media hype is politically motivated, and the main purpose of such a move is to spoil the atmosphere of the talks and make it more difficult to resolve the issues," she said.

The Associated Press on Friday quoted diplomats as claiming that Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran's ability to make material for nuclear arms if it decides so by committing it to ship to Russia much of its enriched uranium.

Iran denies its nuclear work may have any military objectives, saying its program is solely for peaceful applications, such as power generation.

The two diplomats also told the AP that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalog outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes.

The diplomats said differences still dominate ahead of the next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on January 15 in Geneva. But they suggested that even agreement to create a to-do list would have been difficult previously because of wide gaps between the sides.

The talks have been extended twice due to stubborn disagreements which have blocked efforts to build on an interim nuclear accord Iran and the major powers signed in November 2013 to reach a long-term settlement to the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

The main conflict is over uranium enrichment. The US has proposed that Tehran export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium — something the Islamic Republic has long said it would not do.

The diplomats claimed both sides in the talks are still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran.

But the diplomats said the newly created catalog lists shipping out much of the material as tentatively agreed upon. The diplomats, who are familiar with the talks, spoke to the AP recently and demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the closed negotiations.

Issues that still need agreement, they said, include the size of Iran's future enrichment output. The US insists that it be cut in half, leaving Tehran with about 4,500 present day centrifuges used to enrich uranium, or less if it replaces them with advanced models.

Two other unresolved issues are the Fordo underground enrichment site and the nearly built Arak nuclear reactor. The US and other major powers (Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia) want to repurpose Fordo to a non-enrichment function. The six also seek to re-engineer Arak to sharply reduce the facility's plutonium output.

Negotiators hope to reach a rough deal by March and a final agreement by June 30.