Iran, IAEA say nuclear proposal still on table

Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:15am EST
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By Dominic Evans

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Iran and the U.N. nuclear agency said on Friday a deal on enriched uranium was still possible, but there was no sign Tehran would accept Western terms meant to prevent the material being used in bombs.

Western diplomats have said Iran has effectively turned down the proposal and the United States and major European allies are pursuing broader U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear activity.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Reuters the proposal, which would involve Iran sending its enriched uranium abroad in exchange for fuel to produce medical isotopes, "still can be on the table."

There was potential for "some common understanding first, and agreement second," he said. "There is a possibility."

He was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, shortly after Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency which brokered the draft deal on enriched uranium, told reporters in the Swiss ski resort that the offer remained.

"The proposal is on the table. Dialogue is continuing," Amano said in his first public remarks on the standoff since he succeeded Mohamed ElBaradei two months ago.

He left unclear whether "dialogue" meant the IAEA was actively exploring compromises with Iran and world powers. Western officials have stopped short of declaring the plan dead but said Tehran's approach had not been serious.

Diplomats said last week Iran's envoy to the IAEA had notified Amano that it could not accept the deal's central provision for Tehran to ship most of its enriched uranium abroad in one go in exchange for fuel for nuclear medicine.   Continued...