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IAEA Chief Submits Proposal for Iran Enrichment Deal

By VOA News
21 October 2009

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 nuclear program.

Mohamed ElBaradei made the announcement Wednesday at the end of two-and-a-half days of talks among Iran, Russia, France, the United States and the IAEA. The discussions were held at IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

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 his new proposal does involve France, but he did not say in what capacity.

Iran's IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Iran is fully cooperating, and he characterized the talks as constructive and intensive.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Iran is opposed to France's involvement, and he has 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.

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



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