Phased US-Iran nuclear deal taking shape

US negotiating team holds meeting after negotiating with Iranian counterparts on Feb 22, 2015.

US negotiating team holds meeting after talks with Iranian counterparts on Feb 22, 2015.

GENEVA (AP) — Officials say the U.S. and Iran are shaping the contours of a deal that could allow Iran to progressively ramp up its nuclear program over the last few years of its duration.

Western officials cite long-awaited progress on many elements that would have to go into a comprehensive deal being negotiated Monday.

If the sides agree on 15 years, for instance, strict controls could be in place for 10 years with gradual lifting after. Then, Iran could increase the number of centrifuges enriching uranium toward the 10,000 or so it now operates, and upping the level of enrichment while keeping it well below weapons-grade.

Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons.

The officials demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the negotiations.

By The Associated Press