US-Iran negotiating teams in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 29, 2015.
(photo by Bahman Zarehei, Islamic Republic News Agency)
The United States and five other world powers moved toward an agreement with Iran to limit Tehran's nuclear development program, but have yet to reach a final accord.
Diplomats meeting Sunday in Lausanne, Switzerland, reported Tehran has shown a willingness to cut the number of nuclear centrifuges it operates to fewer than 6,000 and ship most of its enriched uranium stockpiles to Russia for storage.
In exchange, the countries negotiating with Iran - Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States - were reported to be considering allowing Iran to conduct limited, closely monitored nuclear testing for medical purposes at an underground facility called Fordow.
But officials monitoring the talks said some contentious issues remain under negotiation as Iran and the six world powers attempt to reach the framework for a deal by their self-imposed Tuesday deadline.
With the looming deadline, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been meeting for months with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, canceled plans to return Sunday to the United States for an event he had hoped to attend.
The Iranian nuclear discussions are at a key juncture, with both sides saying it is up to the other party to make concessions.
Zarif said in a Twitter message Saturday that Iran is ready to make a good deal and is waiting for his counterparts to do the same. But officials from the six world powers involved in the talks say Iran must compromise.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the deal that appears to be emerging confirms his fears "and even worse." The Israeli leader, who has been urging world powers against negotiating with Iran, said, "The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous for humanity and must be stopped."
A senior U.S. State Department official said Saturday, "The serious, but difficult work continues. We expect the pace to intensify as we assess if an understanding is possible."
The world powers negotiating with Iran are seeking to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. In exchange, Tehran wants economic sanctions imposed by the West that have hobbled the Iranian economy to be eased.
Iran wants the sanctions ended immediately. But French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday there is concern about how to monitor whether Iran is complying with curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran denies wanting to build a nuclear weapon and insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.
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