There were conflicting assessments of the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Switzerland, with some officials expressing cautious optimism and others saying the two sides are still far apart. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a potential deal would cut Iran's centrifuges by 40 percent for at least a decade, in exchange for the phasing out of U.S. economic sanctions. Gwen Ifill reports.
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With a deadline fast approaching for an Iran nuclear deal, negotiators in Switzerland and officials in Washington offered conflicting assessments today about where things stand.
JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman:
The reports are inaccurate. There is no such draft document being circulated. The fundamental framework issues are still under comprehensive discussion.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki challenged the latest account of a draft agreement being negotiated with Iran. The Associated Press reported today a potential deal would cut Iran's centrifuges for enriching uranium by 40 percent, from 10,000 down to 6,000, for at least a decade. The U.S. the U.S. had initially sought a maximum of 1,500 centrifuges.
In exchange for the 40 percent reduction, Washington would agree to phase out economic sanctions and possibly get the U.N. to agree to roll back an arms embargo.
In Lausanne, Switzerland today, where talks are under way, Iran's foreign minister sounded cautiously optimistic.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Foreign Minister, Iran:
We are making progress, but there are issues that need to be resolved.
But Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is still pushing some tough issues, and a senior European negotiator reported the sides are still far apart.
All of this follows the Israeli prime minister's fiery speech to Congress, warning against any deal, and the Senate Republican warning letter to Iran. There have also been bipartisan calls for congressional approval of any agreement, and possibly additional sanctions if the talks fail.