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Key Nuclear Disputes Persist After Latest Iran Talks

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, center, seen after a meeting in Vienna on Friday with delegates from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. A new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers ended after with officials from both sides airing concerns about a lack of progress. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, center, seen after a meeting in Vienna on Friday with delegates from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. A new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers ended after with officials from both sides airing concerns about a lack of progress. (Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran and six other countries last week ended talks no closer to an agreement on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, the Associated Press reports.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Friday said the sides had achieved "no progress" in hammering out the first language for a potential deal, which could restrict Iran's atomic efforts and lift sanctions against the nation. Washington and its partners imposed the economic penalties based on suspicions that Iran could pursue a nuclear-bomb capacity under the guise of a civilian atomic program.

"The goal of this round was to draft an agreement [and] we feel that differences are still there," said Araqchi, noting there were more than a dozen points of contention.

"We should wait for the time when ... the positions are closer," the senior negotiator said.

Any such delay may prevent the sides from concluding a deal by July 20, the expiration date for an interim accord that took effect in January, according to AP. Araqchi said the next discussion is scheduled for June 16-20, according to a state media report quoted by Reuters on Sunday.

A Western insider said Iran's uranium refinement efforts remained one of the thorniest areas of dispute for negotiators, AP reported.

Araqchi also hinted at renewed debate over Iran's unfinished heavy-water reactor, Reuters reported. An Iranian official previously indicated the nation might modify the Arak site to produce less plutonium, which holds the potential to fuel nuclear arms.

"It is ridiculous that the power of the [Arak] reactor would be cut from 40 megawatts to 10 megawatts," Araqchi said on Sunday in comments quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Despite the problems, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said an agreement was still possible, Agence France-Presse reported.

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