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Major World Powers Dislike Nuclear Response From Iran

Source: VOA News

Deal brokered by IAEA would have helped easew fears that Tehran was trying to build nuclear weapons

The United States and five leading world powers meeting in Brussels expressed disappointment Friday that Iran had not accepted a uranium enrichment offer, even as the outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency urged Tehran to agree to the plan.

The Brussels meeting came just two days after Iran rejected a proposal to further enrich its low-enrichment uranium overseas. On October 1, Tehran appeared to have accepted the deal, which was brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agreement would have also helped ease international fears that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Representatives at the Brussels meeting -- from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- did not speak to reporters. But they issued a statement after the talks, saying they were disappointed with Iran and urged the country to reconsider the offer.

That message was echoed in Berlin by IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei, who said he hoped the two sides could reach agreement by the year's end.  "Iran needs to engage with the international community. They have a lot to gain in terms of trade, in terms of technology. The international community has a lot to gain by regularizing relations with Iran. Iran in my view is a gateway to stability in the Middle East and Afghanistan, in Iraq and Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, so it's a win-win situation and if we are not able to make use of this opportunity, I think it will be a real shame," he said.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the six nations meeting in Brussels would develop proposals for tough new measures against Iran in the coming weeks.

US Says Next Big-Power Meeting on Iranian Nuclear Program Will Take Up Punitive Steps

The State Department says the international community's patience with Iran is limited, and that another meeting of the P5+1 grouping will be held shortly to take up the pressure side of its two-track approach to Iran of incentives if it cooperates  on the nuclear issue, and penalties if it doesn't.

The comments follow a meeting of senior diplomats of the six powers in Brussels Friday who reviewed Iran's equivocal reaction to a proposal under which most of its stockpile of enriched uranium would be sent abroad for reprocessing and returned to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator appeared to accept the plan, developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a meeting with the P5+1 in Geneva October first in a move that would have eased concerns that its enrichment program is weapons-related.

But the Tehran government has since backtracked on the issue, with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki saying this week Iran is no longer willing to send the uranium out of the country.

At a news briefing Friday, Deputy State Department Spokesman Robert Wood expressed frustration over the Iranian stance.

"This is something the Iranians agreed to in principle," said Robert Wood. "If you remember back in the Geneva meeting they agreed in principle to this proposal that was brought about under the auspices of the IAEA. And since then Iran has had a difficult time saying yes to this proposal. So we're hopeful that Iran will, but should it not, we will obviously take a look at the pressure side of our dual-track approach."

Among the P5+1 members, Russia and China have been resistant to punitive action against Iran such as new U.N. sanctions.

Spokesman Wood stopped short of predicting that the grouping's next meeting on Iran, at a date and venue still to be determined, would produce decisions on penalties. But he said the six powers are of one mind on the two-track approach.

President Barack Obama said in the South Korean capital, Seoul, early Thursday that he expects a package of potential steps to be developed over the next several weeks that will, as he put it, indicate our seriousness to Iran.

A senior State Department official who spoke to reporters Friday said the President still expects to be able to decide by year's end if a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue is possible though he said it is not a hard deadline.

The same official said there is great concern among member countries of the IAEA governing board about Iran's conflicted response to the agency proposal, which he said could reflect a split in the Iranian leadership.

... Payvand News - 11/21/09 ... --

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