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US: Deal to implement Iran nuclear deal near

By Elise Labott and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 0750 GMT (1550 HKT)
In this 2010 file photo, workers build a reactor at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
In this 2010 file photo, workers build a reactor at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We're getting close but just not quite there yet," a U.S. administration official says
  • Iranian state-media reported Tehran will implement a nuclear accord in late January
  • The accord was reached in November, and requires Iran to limit its nuclear program
  • In exchange for limiting its program, some sanctions placed on Iran will be lifted

Washington (CNN) -- The United States dismissed a report that an agreement had been reached between Iran and world powers to begin implementing a deal that requires Tehran to limit its nuclear program.

The announcement followed a report in state-run Iranian media that a deal had been reached in negotiations between Tehran and the six world powers, including the United States, to begin implementing the agreement in late January,

"We've made progress in our discussions, and the teams have taken a few outstanding points back to capitals," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.

"The two sides expect to finalize the implementation plan soon."

A senior administration official characterized the talks as ongoing.

"We're getting close but just not quite there yet," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

A senior Iranian negotiator, Hamid Baeidinejad, told Press TV that an agreement had been reached following two days of talks in Geneva between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The two sides managed to reach an understanding on the implementation of the agreement and now, their views and interpretations (of the Geneva deal) are the same," Baeidinejad told Iranian state-run Press TV.

The nuclear deal struck in November between the world powers, collectively known as the P5+1, and Iran calls for Tehran to limit its nuclear activities in return for a relaxation of sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

The deal has been widely hailed as a successful interim measure to stave off an unwanted conflict over Tehran's illicit nuclear program.

But after initially celebrating a diplomatic success, Iran has reportedly lashed out at the United States for releasing a modified version of the agreement to the American people that does not reflect its interpretation.

Just last week, Iranian lawmakers drafted a bill that would force the government to enrich uranium up to 60% if new sanctions are imposed, state media reported Wednesday.

The move came less than a week after bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would authorize new economic sanctions on Iran if it breaches an interim agreement to limit its nuclear program or fails to strike a final accord terminating those ambitions..

The United States and other western powers believe Iran is attempting to build a bomb through uranium enrichment. But Tehran says its nuclear intentions are peaceful.

Elise Labott reported from Washington, and Chelsea J. Carter wrote from Atlanta; CNN's Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

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