Middle East

'Very good progress' at Iran nuclear talks - EU

The exterior of the Arak heavy water production facility in Arak, Iran Image copyright AP
Image caption As part of the deal, inspectors from the UN's nuclear agency visited Iran's Arak heavy water production plant last month

The EU has reported "very good progress" at talks with Iran on the implementation of a deal on Iran's nuclear programme.

The issue was now "under validation at political level in capitals", the EU's External Action Service said.

Earlier Iran's deputy foreign minister was quoted as telling state media all outstanding issues had been resolved.

In November Iran agreed a deal to freeze its nuclear programme in return for sanctions being eased.

In recent weeks Iranian negotiators have been meeting with representatives of the "P5+1" group (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) to discuss how technical details of the deal would be implemented.

"We found solutions for all the points of disagreement," Iran's deputy Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister earlier told state television, according to AFP.

However, Mr Araqchi also said implementation of the agreement depended "on the final ratification of the capitals".

He added that no further meetings at expert level were planned for the moment.

For its part the US state department also said "good progress" had been made.

"There have been a few outstanding issues, but at this point, the reports that everything has been finalised are incorrect," state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to Reuters.

Rouhani in Davos

Western nations have long accused Iran of seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon, but Iran says the programme is for solely peaceful ends.

As part of the deal, inspectors from the UN's nuclear agency visited Iran's Arak heavy water production plant on 8 December for the first time in more than two years.

Israeli and American critics of the Geneva deal say it gives Iran cover to expand the programme.

Last month US Secretary of State John Kerry defended the deal before a panel in Congress and resisted calls to introduce additional sanctions.

Also on Friday it was announced that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is due attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos later this month.

He will be only the second Iranian president since 1979 to attend the event, after reformist President Mohammed Khatami in 2004.

Mr Rouhani's more conciliatory style has been cited as a factor in the recent improvement in relations between Iran and the West.

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