Tehran wants more talks on UN nuclear deal

Iran has demanded further talks on how to procure nuclear fuel for its reactor before it delivers a full reply to a UN-drafted plan on nuclear cooperation with world powers.


AFP - Iran wants more talks on how to procure nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor before giving a final reply to a UN-drafted deal that was initially expected a week ago, the state IRNA news agency said on Friday.

UN atomic watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday it has received an "initial response" from Iran to the deal, but IRNA said it was not Tehran's "answer" to the plan brokered by the agency.

"The Islamic republic only announced its positive view to the negotiation and has said it is ready to have negotiations based on its technical and economic considerations regarding how to procure fuel for the Tehran reactor," IRNA said, quoting an unnamed informed source.

Amid growing French impatience and US warnings that Washington's patience was also running thin, IRNA indicated Tehran's message to the IAEA was "not an answer to the draft agreement."

Iran would state its full position after more negotiations, the agency said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs warned that US President Barack Obama will not wait for ever for a formal reply from Iran to the IAEA-drafted deal.

"The president's time is not unlimited, this was not about talking for the sake of talking, this was about reaching an agreement that just a few weeks ago seemed to be something that the Iranians wanted," Gibbs said.

World powers have been waiting for a response from Tehran for the deal which proposes to ship out Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for converting into fuel for a Tehran reactor.

But IRNA reported that Iran was expected to insist it will give its LEU at the same time it receives the fuel for the Tehran reactor. The agency did not elaborate.

Western powers are backing the plan for the reactor, an internationally supervised facility.

Another plus for the world powers is that the deal would take out Tehran's LEU which they feel Iran could enrich to higher levels and use to make atomic weapons, a charge which the Islamic republic denies.

Iran had been initially due to give its response to the deal by October 23.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday the United States was still trying to determine the extent of Iran's initial response to the IAEA.

"We are working to determine exactly what they are willing to do, whether this was an initial response that is an end response or whether it's the beginning of getting to where we expect them to end up," she told CNN.

Clinton said Washington was "seeking clarification" on Iran's response, while France demanded that Iran make a formal written response.

"We call on Iran to give its formal response without delay. The oral Iranian response to the IAEA proposes changes to the agreement," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters.

Iranian media report that Tehran is still seeking some changes to the fuel supply proposals.

The plan calls for Iran to export to Russia more than 2,640 pounds (1,200 kilos) of its 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium (LEU) for refining up to 20 percent to fuel a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.

France would then fashion the material into fuel rods for the reactor.

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