17 November 2019

Iran softens stance on nuclear program but deal no closer

Western governments have begun piling the pressure on Iran after it signaled a smaller nuclear enrichment program during talks in Vienna.

The West wants Tehran to agree to a bigger compromise, Reuters reported Thursday, citing diplomats close to the negotiations. The talks involve Iran the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China

However, some diplomats said it would not be easy to clinch a deal by their self-imposed July 20 deadline despite Iran’s softer stance.

Tehran’s shift relates to the main sticking point in the talks — the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran will maintain if a deal is reached to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual end of western sanctions.

Ending the decade-long dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions is seen as instrumental to defusing tension and averting a new Middle East war.

On Wednesday a senior Iranian official said Tehran has refused to back down from its demand to maintain 50,000 operational centrifuges, a figure deemed by the West to contradict Iran’s stated need for a strictly civilian nuclear energy program.

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