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U.S. Could Unfreeze Iranian Assets if Steps Are Taken To Curb Nuclear Program

The Obama administration is considering freeing up Iranian assets if Tehran takes specific steps to curb its nuclear program, a senior administration official said.

The official, who was not named, told The New York Times that if the United States frees up Iran’s frozen overseas assets in installments, the Obama administration would avoid the political and diplomatic risks of waiving some of the sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a number of congressional leaders are opposed to lifting any sanctions until Iran verifiably complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions that require a suspension of uranium enrichment.

The report comes after two days of talks in Geneva over the Iranian nuclear program. While the talks did not produce a breakthrough, Iranian officials were more candid and substantive than in previous diplomatic encounters, officials said.

Many Western countries and Israel believe Iran is attempting to obtain nuclear arms. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful. Administration officials said they would urge the Senate to hold off on voting on a new bill to enhance existing sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors until after the next round of talks on Nov. 7.

The official likened the plan, which is still being debated inside the White House and the State Department, to opening and closing a financial spigot.

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