Sides said to reach tentative nuke deal paring centrifuges
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Sides said to reach tentative nuke deal paring centrifuges

Iranian diplomats issue denial after Western diplomats say Tehran agreed to export enriched uranium to Russia, cut number of centrifuges to 6,000

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (left) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd left) and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (2nd right) during Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 29, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (left) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd left) and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (2nd right) during Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 29, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

Iran and six world powers have reached provisional agreement on key parts of a deal sharply curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program, Western diplomats in talks in Switzerland said Sunday.

One of these diplomats said Iran had “more or less” agreed to slash the number of its centrifuge machines by more than two-thirds — to under 6,000 centrifuges — and to ship abroad most of its stockpile of nuclear material to Russia.

As negotiators in Lausanne raced to nail down by midnight Tuesday the outlines of a deal, due to be finalized on June 30, the diplomats cautioned, however, that things may change.

Members of the American delegation denied that the sides had reached an agreement on a draft, Israel Radio reported.

Iranian diplomats also denied that any tentative agreement on these points had been struck, saying that any reports of a specific number of centrifuges and exporting its stockpiles were “journalistic speculation.”

“The fact is that we will conserve a substantial number of centrifuges, that no site will be closed, in particular Fordo. These are the basis of the talks,” the Iranian diplomat said.

A senior member of the Iranian negotiating team said that the “publication of such information by certain Western media is aimed at creating an atmosphere to disturb the negotiating process.”

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against the emerging nuclear deal with Iran, saying it was worse than Israel feared.

“After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is maneuvering from the south to take over the entire Middle East,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting, one of the last for his outgoing government. “The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is dangerous for mankind and must be stopped.”

Netanyahu told ministers that he had spoken with Republican leaders in the US Senate and “conveyed our serious concern regarding the arrangement with Iran at the nuclear talks. This agreement confirms all our fears and exceeds them.”

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