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Iran has cut atomic programme, says UN watchdog

Iran has cut back its nuclear activities in line with an international agreement, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog IAEA has announced.

It paves the way for international sanctions to be lifted.

An Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr Credit: Reuters

The announcement comes after the US and Iran announced a prisoner swap, a major diplomatic coup setting the stage for today's much anticipated announcement.

Iran prisoner swap 'marks new era for relations with the West'

The prisoner swap by Iran marks a "new era in relations with the West", a former Iranian diplomat has told ITV News.

Mehrdad Khonsari said it is a "victory for common sense and diplomacy".

Seven prisoners - including US journalist Jason Rezaian - were freed by Iran in a prisoner swap.

The release comes as Iran's foreign minister met with John Kerry in Vienna, as international sanctions are expected to be lifted on Iran.

It is a victory for common sense and diplomacy that has persevered. It's a victory for not giving up when things don't look bright and trying to work things out peacefully...

What has taken place marks the beginning of a new era in Iran's relations with the West.

– Mehrdad Khonsari

ITV News Correspondent Duncan Golestani reports:

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Student is fifth US citizen released by Iran

Iran has released a fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, a US official has announced.

He was said to have been freed separately from four dual nationals including the US reporter Jason Rezaian who are being released under a 'prisoner swap' deal.

A US official said the state has offered clemency to seven Iranians who were convicted or had pending trials. It also removed intentional red wanted notices against a further 14 people.

The swap comes as the US and Iran work on a historic nuclear deal Credit: Reuters

A US official has stressed the deal is a "one-time arrangement" that should not be viewed as a precedent.

It comes amid a historic thaw in relations between the US and Iran ahead of a widely anticipated nuclear deal.

US releases seven Iranians under 'prisoner swap'

American officials have confirmed that the Washing Post reporter Jason Rezaian is among four dual US citizens being released by Tehran under a 'prisoner swap' deal.

Jason Rezaian is among four dual citizens being released by Iran Credit: AP

They announced the US is to release seven Iranians, six of who hold dual US citizenship, who were held for violations of international sanctions against Iran, officials in Washington said.

In a addition Rezaian, three other dual citizens being released by Iran are Amir Hekmat, a former US marine; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor; and Nosratollah Khosravi.

None of the US prisoners held by Iran have yet left Tehran, the US said.

US pastor's wife says he has been released by Iran

The wife of an American pastor held as a prisoner in Iran said that he was among seven freed under a 'prisoner swap'.

Saeed Abedini has been named as one of those freed today, according to news agencies in Iran.

His wife Naghmeh Abedini tweeted: "It is confirmed: Saeed is released from Iranian prison."

The former Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is also reported to be among four men with dual US-Iranian national to be released.

Iran releases four dual Iranian-US detainees

Iran has released four prisoners with dual Iranian-US nationality, the Tehran public prosecutor was quoted as saying, without giving further details.

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is included in those released, according to Iran's semi-official FARS news agency.

It named the other three as Amir Hekmat, a former US marine; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor; and Nosratollah Khosravi.

"In line with orders from the Supreme National Security Council and in the national interest, four Iranian dual national prisoners have been released in a prisoner swap," Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

IRNA news agency's English language service quoted him as saying the freed prisoners were Iranian-Americans.,

US Secretary of State Kerry meets Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The release comes as Iran's foreign minister met with John Kerry in Vienna, as international sanctions are expected to be lifted on Iran.

The lifting of sanctions are expected to be triggered when the United Nations nuclear agency declares Tehran has complied with an agreement to scale back its nuclear program.

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Kerry: 'Real and substantial progress' on Iran nuclear talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry says there has been "real and substantial progress" in coming to an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme.

He praised the "diligent" approach of his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, but warned there remain "significant points of disagreement" that have to be worked through.

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking in Vienna. Credit: RTV

Mr Kerry was speaking after the latest round of negotiations in Vienna were adjourned.

He said the talks had been extended for another seven months, with a "very specific goal" of reaching a political agreement within four months.

[The talks] are tough and they've been tough and they're going to stay tough. If it were easier, if views on both sides weren't as deeply held as they are then we'd have reached a final agreement months or even years ago. But in these last days in Vienna we have made real and substantial progress and we have seen new ideas surface.

– John Kerry

Nuclear talks deadline extended until June 2015

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Credit: PA

Iran and the six powers will resume talks on the country's nuclear programme next month after a second bid to resolve the issue failed today.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said "some significant progress" had been made but it had not been possible to complete a deal before today's deadline.

It has now been extended until June next year.

Mr Hammond added the expectation was Iran would continue to refrain from sensitive atomic activity during that time.

Iran nuclear talks 'set to adjourn without a deal'

Talks between six world powers and the Iranian government over the country's nuclear programme are set to adjourn without an agreement, a source close to negotiations has told Reuters.

The talks are expected to restart next month, possibly in the Gulf state of Oman, although details about a resumption are still being worked out, the source added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. Credit: Reuters

They are aimed at securing a deal under which sanctions against Iran would be gradually lifted in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

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