The head of the United Nations nuclear agency says talks between Iran
and world powers on Iran's nuclear program could still produce a deal,
after discussions were stalled much of Tuesday.
Diplomats from Iran, Russia, France, and the United States reconvened
at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna
late Tuesday. Talks stalled earlier in the day, after Iran expressed
resistance to France's proposed role in a proposal that would have Iran
ship uranium to Russia and France for conversion to reactor fuel.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Tuesday that progress was "slower
than expected" and that technical issues and "confidence-building
guarantees" still needed to be analyzed. He told reporters that
diplomats spent the day in bilateral and trilateral consultations, and
that talks would continue on Wednesday.
A U.S. National Security Council spokesman (Mike Hammer) said
the U.S. and Iranian delegations held separate discussions on the
proposed uranium enrichment deal, under the auspices of the IAEA.
Tuesday's postponement came after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki said in Tehran that France is not needed in any deal concerning
Iran's nuclear program. He and other Iranian officials accused France
of failing to deliver nuclear supplies in the past.
A diplomat familiar with the Vienna talks says the parties now are
considering a compromise deal between Russia and Iran. It would allow
Russia to sub-contract enrichment work to France, thereby meeting
Tehran's demand to avoid direct dealings with Paris.
A French foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, said France is
participating in the Vienna nuclear talks, despite Tehran's comments.
Another diplomat says there are other issues with the uranium enrichment deal that needed to be worked through.
The enrichment deal would be aimed at easing Western concerns that
Iranian uranium enrichment activities are aimed at developing nuclear
The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions
on Iran for its refusal to halt its enrichment activities.