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Russian Foreign Minister Upbeat On Sealing Iran Nuclear Deal

Source: RFE/RL

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says world powers and Iran are close to agreeing a preliminary deal to ease international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program and should not miss a "very good chance" to seal it.

Sergei Lavrov says a deal on Iran's nuclear deal is close.

Lavrov made the remarks in an interview with Russian TV broadcast on November 16.

"There are no major disagreements now over issues that require practical solutions. It is all about putting this understanding that we achieved on paper in a correct way, in a diplomatic language, so that we have a joint document that has not been forced by somebody from outside," Lavrov said.

His comments come a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also expressed optimism on the chances of securing a deal.

Zarif's upbeat assessment was also shared by a U.S. official who said it was "quite possible" a deal could be reached. He warned, however, that there were still "tough issues to negotiate."

Officials from Iran and six world powers -- China, Russia, the United States, Germany, France, and Britain -- are due to hold another round of negotiations in Geneva next week.

Talks earlier in the month in Geneva produced no deal, but progress was reported.

Tehran wants relief from international sanctions over its failure to halt its uranium-enrichment program.

Iran denies it is using its nuclear program to secretly develop nuclear weapons, as the West suspects.

IAEA: Iran Stopped Enrichment

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on November 14 said Iran has stopped expanding its uranium-enrichment capacity under President Hassan Rohani, who replaced hard-liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad in August.

The IAEA said only a handful of additional centrifuges for enriching uranium were installed at the Natanz enrichment plant.

No new ones were installed at the Fordow facility.

The report also said that "no major components" had been installed at a plutonium-producing reactor under construction at Arak.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "not impressed" with the IAEA report.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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