Report: Iran negotiations hit obstacle over centrifuges

Negotiations between the United States, its allies, and Iran over its nuclear program have hit an obstacle, Reuters reports.

Diplomats told Reuters the talks have snagged because of disagreements over the issue of centrifuge research.

Experts from the U.S., Russia, Germany, China, France and Britain have been meeting intermittently with Iranian experts in Geneva to hammer out the terms of the interim agreement reached in November. 

Those countries reached a deal on Nov. 24 that limits the amount of uranium Iran can enrich, and effectively freezes its current nuclear program.

Negotiators intend to resolve the issue of Iran’s research into and development of a new model of an advanced nuclear centrifuge, which Iran says it has installed, according to Reuters.

Talks in December faltered twice. They first ended when the White House announced it was blacklisting under existing sanctions additional individuals and companies that are connected with Iran’s nuclear program. The White House has vowed to block any additional or tougher sanctions against Iran during the course of the six-month deal. 

Discussions in late December also ended because of the centrifuges issue, Reuters said.

“This issue [centrifuges] was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on December 19-21," a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. 

"As part of the [November 24] agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in [research and development], but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear," the diplomat continued. 

Other Western diplomats, the report says, have called centrifuges a “sticking point” in the negotiations. They are machines used to purify uranium, which can fuel atomic nuclear plants. 

If Iran complies with the terms of the interim deal, the U.S. and the other nations aim to bridge a final deal. The talks are expected to resume later this week.