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U.S. Denies Report Of Renewed Nuclear Talks With Iran

A U.S. official has denied a report that emerged last week that Washington was once again in talks with Tehran about the latter’s nuclear program.

The report, published in Middle East Eye on June 8, cited unnamed sources as saying the United States and Iran were nearing an interim deal that would see some sanction relief in exchange for Iran scaling down its uranium enrichment program.

According to the report, if Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium to 60% purity and more, it would be allowed to export 1 million barrels of crude daily.

The news pushed oil prices even lower last week, as any possibility of sanction removal would see more Iranian barrels come into the global market.

The denials, however, were prompt and came from both the U.S. and the Iranian side, even though two Iranian officials confirmed to Reuters that talks were ongoing.

"This report is false and misleading," a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said at the time, as quoted by Reuters.

The Iranian mission to the United States said that "Our comment is the same as the White House comment."

The denials did not have any effect on oil prices, which have remained subdued amid signs of uneven Chinese recovery and a slowdown in the United States along with the eurozone recession.

This week, the unnamed Washington source told Reuters that "We have made clear to them what escalatory steps they needed to avoid to prevent a crisis and what de-escalatory steps they could take to create a more positive context."

The U.S.-Iran talks about a new nuclear deal, moderated by the EU, broke down last year as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on several sticky points.

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The recent spate of tanker seizures by both U.S. and Iranian forces is unlikely to have improved the sentiment between the two sides although communication appears to have continued despite the breakdown of the official talks.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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