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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Nuclear Talks Delayed

By VOA News
20 October 2009

The Vienna talks on Iran's nuclear program were delayed Tuesday after an Iranian official said France was not needed at the talks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency did not give a reason for the delay in starting the second day of discussions among Iran, Russia, France, the United States and the IAEA.

But the Associated Press quotes diplomats as saying the break was due to an impasse over France's participation.

The negotiators have been discussing a proposal to have Iran ship uranium to Russia and France for conversion to reactor fuel.

Tuesday's hold-up came after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Tehran that France is not needed in any deal concerning Iran's nuclear program. He added that working with only the U.S. and Russia under IAEA supervision would be sufficient to reach an agreement.

The enrichment deal would be aimed at easing Western concerns that Iranian uranium enrichment activities are aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

State-run Iranian television earlier quoted sources close to the negotiations as saying Tehran would not enter into an enrichment arrangement with France because of what they said was its previous failure to deliver reactor supplies.

The chief of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said Monday that the discussions in Vienna had gotten "off to a good start" and were, in his words, "constructive."

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said he endorsed that characterization of Monday's talks.

However, earlier Monday, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Shirzadian, said Tehran would not abandon its uranium enrichment activities regardless of the outcome of talks with world powers.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its enrichment activities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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