The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has
given Iran and three world powers until Friday to endorse a uranium
enrichment agreement that could ease Western concerns about Iran's
Mohamed ElBaradei made the announcement in Vienna Wednesday, at the end
of two-and-a-half days of talks among Iran, Russia, France, the United
States and the IAEA.
Negotiators had been discussing a proposal to have Iran ship uranium to
Russia and France for conversion to fuel for an Iranian research
reactor. But talks stalled on Tuesday, after Iran expressed resistance
to the prospect of dealing directly with France.
ElBaradei said Wednesday that this new IAEA draft proposal does involve France, but he did not say in what capacity.
Iran's IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the U.N. nuclear agency is "on the right track."
And, in Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman (Ian Kelly) told reporters that the U.S. delegation (at the Vienna talks) found the draft acceptable.
Both men stressed that the draft needs further review.
Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said
Iran is opposed to France's involvement, and he accused the country of
failing to deliver nuclear supplies in the past.
Western diplomats consider third-party uranium processing to be a
confidence-building measure. They say it will ensure that Iran's
uranium is enriched to levels suitable for civilian use but below what
is needed for nuclear weapons.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions
on Iran for its refusal to halt its enrichment activities.