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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Nuclear Talks Delayed After Iran Says 'France Not Needed'

By VOA News
20 October 2009

The Vienna talks on Iran's nuclear program stalled Tuesday, apparently because Iran expressed resistance to France's proposed role in the uranium enrichment deal that is under discussion.

The International Atomic Energy Agency did not give a reason for postponing the start of the second day of talks among Iran, Russia, France, the United States and the IAEA.

And the head of Iran's delegation,Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, did not indicate if he planned to return when reporters questioned him as he left the meeting's venue Tuesday.

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

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.

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.

State-run Iranian television reported Tehran would not enter into an enrichment arrangement with France, saying it previously failed to deliver reactor supplies.

A French foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, said France is participating in the Vienna nuclear talks, despite Tehran's comments.

Mottaki also said Tuesday 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.

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

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.

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