US Says Patience With Iran on Nuclear Issue Not Unlimited
By David Gollust, VOA, Washington
The Obama administration signaled impatience with Iran after the Tehran
government ignored a Friday deadline to respond to a U.N.-brokered deal aimed at
easing concerns over its nuclear program. Iran has promised a reply by next
Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility south of Tehran
U.S. officials say they're willing to wait a few more days for an Iranian
response to the nuclear proposals, but they say the Obama administration is
looking for concrete action and does not have unlimited patience.
The comments from the State Department came after Iran failed to provide a final
response Friday to a proposal brokered by the United Nations nuclear watchdog
agency under which Tehran would ship abroad much of the low-enriched uranium it
has produced in an enrichment effort that has drawn international concern.
Under the scheme, Russia would further enrich the uranium to the 20 per cent
purity needed for use in a research reactor in Tehran which produces medical
isotopes but is running out of fuel.
The fact that if Tehran surrendered most of the uranium it has been processing
at its Natanz enrichment facility it would ease worries that its effort is
Though Iran was to respond by Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency
said Iran told it that while it was considering the plan in a favorable light it
needed until the middle of next week to make a decision.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States
would obviously have liked to see an Iranian reply but is willing to give Tehran
a few more days. "We're looking for concrete steps. And we take it as a positive
sign that they've agreed in principle to take a couple of significant steps -
the opening of the Qom facility, and then working out a procedure for having
their low-enriched uranium re-processed in another country. At the same time,
our patience is not limitless. I think we can stretch things out a few days, and
that's really what we're talking about. But we're not going to wait forever," he
Kelly said preparations have been made for a visit Sunday by IAEA inspectors to
the partially-underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom that Iran
recently acknowledged it has been secretly building.
Kelly said the results of the inspection of the Qom plant, and Tehran's final
decision on the uranium export plan, will figure heavily in big-power
discussions on whether to seek further punitive action against Iran over its
Senior diplomats of the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries
and Germany - the P-Five-plus-One - are to meet at the end of this month in
Geneva with Iran's nuclear negotiator to review Tehran's overall response to
their offer of incentives for it to curb enrichment and return to negotiations.
Officials have said the plan for Iran to export uranium for processing abroad
under safeguards for its medical reactor could be a model for a broader deal to
resolve concerns that its nominally-peaceful program is weapons-related.
The other parties to the medical reactor plan, Russia, France and the United
States, told the International Atomic Energy Agency Friday they had accepted the
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the signals about the Iranian
position on the deal are not so positive and that could negatively affect the
upcoming P5+1 meeting in Geneva.
... Payvand News - 10/24/09 ... --