U.S. looking for first step in Iran denuclearization

During the P5+1 talks in Geneva, the U.S. looked for a first step toward stopping Iran's nuclear program from moving forward, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

A senior administration official made the remarks on Wednesday from Geneva on the eve of the P5+1 talks on Thursday and Friday. The official discussed U.S. goals for this round of the P5+1, including the need for an initial understanding that would halt Iran's nuclear program from making progress.

"Put simply, what we're looking for now is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran's nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades, and that potentially rolls part of it back," the official said. "This first step understanding would put time on the clock to give room for us to negotiate a comprehensive final agreement that would address all of the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."

In return for Iran agreeing to the first step, the official said the U.S. is prepared to offer limited sanctions relief.

"In response to a first step agreed to by Iran that halts their program from advancing further, we are prepared to offer limited, targeted, and reversible sanctions relief," the official said. "We are not talking about touching the core architecture of the Iranian sanctions regime in this first step in any way. And if Iran does not live up to its obligations under the initial understanding, or if we cannot get a comprehensive agreement finalized, any economic relief we will have given Iran can, in fact, be reversed."

The official said that nothing is yet agreed to between the U.S. and Iran and there are real gaps between the two sides.

"But this is our goal and it's the one we'll be working towards with our P5+1 partners over the coming days," the official said.