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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran needs more time to consider nuclear fuel agreement, says UN atomic watchdog

23 October 2009 – Iran has asked for more time to consider a draft agreement on fuel for its civilian nuclear research facility, while the three other parties to the deal signalled their approval today, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported today.

On Wednesday, a three-day meeting at the agency’s Vienna headquarters ended with a draft agreement on the provision of fuel for the site in Iran’s capital, Tehran, which, among other activities, produces medical radioisotopes for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures.

Iran informed IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei that it is “considering the proposal in depth and in a favourable light, but it needs until the middle of next week to provide a response,” according to a statement.

The other three nations taking part in the talks – France, Russia and the United States – all indicated their approval of the agreement today, which was the deadline set by Mr. ElBaradei earlier this week.

“The Director General hopes that Iran’s response will equally be positive, since approval of this agreement will signal a new era of cooperation,” the IAEA statement noted.

On Wednesday, Mr. ElBaradei called the draft text a “balanced approach on how to move forward,” adding that its endorsement by all four countries would be a “very important confidence-building measure that can defuse the crisis that has been going on for a number of years and open space for negotiations.”

He also voiced hope that if approved, the agreement will “open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.”

The IAEA was selected as the venue for the discussions because Iran has requested the body to facilitate talks with potential nuclear fuel suppliers.

Earlier this month, it was announced after talks between Mr. ElBaradei and Iranian authorities that IAEA inspectors will visit a newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility under construction in Qom, southwest of the capital.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the facility violates Security Council resolutions because of the delay in its disclosure.

During his talks in New York in September with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Ban repeated his call for the country to implement Security Council resolutions and cooperate with the IAEA on resolving outstanding concerns regarding its nuclear programme.

Iran has stated that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend it is driven by military ambitions. The issue has been of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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