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Optimism over Iran nuclear accord

Iran and six powers said they are optimistic a permanent accord on the Islamic republic's nuclear program is possible before their interim deal expires in July, after talks described as the most detailed so far.

Iran and six powers said they are optimistic a permanent accord on the Islamic republic's nuclear program is possible before their interim deal expires in July, after talks described as the most detailed so far.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in joint statements that negotiators would reconvene April 7 in Vienna, where two days of talks concluded Wednesday. They have set a July 20 target for a final accord that will limit the scope of Iran's nuclear work and lift sanctions.

Iran expects that by late April or early May, negotiators will "start the drafting of the final document," Zarif told reporters Wednesday. This week's talks were the deepest to date, said a U.S. official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. The official, as well as diplomats from France and Germany, supported the idea that an accord is possible before the July 20 deadline.

This week in Vienna, negotiators tried to set parameters for Iran's uranium-enrichment work, addressed concerns over a heavy-water reactor in Arak, and discussed sanctions relief.

World powers are concerned that the highly enriched uranium and plutonium Iran would be capable of producing might be used for nuclear weapons.

Iran insists it has no intention of building a bomb.

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