Iran's Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility
Iran's Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility AFP file

American Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, the official charged with heading the secretive Iranian nuclear negotiations, has said the US could ease sanctions on Iran as a way of encouraging compliance on the issue of the country's nuclear program. The second round of talks between Iran and the P5 + 1 states is to be held in Geneva again this week.

However, reports from the day before (Saturday) reveal that Iran has pledged to continue cooperation with North Korea on its nuclear missile program, bringing the validity of nuclear talks into question as anything more than a mechanism to buy time.

Sherman, the State Department's third-ranking official, said in an interview with Israeli television's Channel 10, that there is a "great deal of mistrust on both sides," reaffirming that President Barak Obama's position is to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.

She rejected the comparison by some Israeli ministers between the Munich Agreement in 1938 which allowed Nazi Germany to progress in its destructive plans, saying that nothing has been agreed to yet.

At the same time, she mentioned that first steps may include "very limited, temporary, reversible sanctions relief", while maintaining the fundamental architecture of oil and banking sanctions until a final agreement.

Sherman also avoided giving any specific figures regarding uranium enrichment, saying that no details are being discussed publicly so as to "test" the seriousness of negotiations.

In response to a question as to whether the US spies on Israeli officials as it did with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sherman neither denied or confirmed, saying the important thing is that Obama is now conducting a review.

Sherman first met with her Iranian counterparts on October 15, in the first direct nuclear talks between the two countries since 2009.

No specific details were released, although Iran reportedly refused demands to suspend uranium enrichment and send enriched stockpiles abroad.

Nevertheless, top officials of President Barak Obama's administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, called on the Senate Thursday not to impose new sanctions on Iran for the benefit of the ongoing nuclear talks.

Sherman herself urged Congress to delay new Iran sanctions on October 3, according to the Los Angeles Times, at the same time recognizing the caution needed in the talks, saying of the Iranians: "we know that deception is part of the DNA."