AFP: US President Barack Obama contacted his Russian and French counterparts Saturday, rallying support for a deal to end the crisis over Iran's nuclear program as they urged Tehran to accept the offer. WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama contacted his Russian and French counterparts Saturday, rallying support for a deal to end the crisis over Iran's nuclear program as they urged Tehran to accept the offer.
Obama made morning calls to Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and France's Nicolas Sarkozy, when all three men "affirmed their full support" for a recently offered deal, the White House said.
Under the plan, Russia and France would produce enriched uranium for the Islamic Republic in exchange for assurances it will not seek a nuclear weapon.
Urging Iran to embrace the deal, the three leaders also "discussed the importance of all parties accepting the proposal so that implementation can begin as soon as possible," Washington said.
The conversations came after Tehran ignored a Friday deadline to respond to the offer, saying it would make its decision in the next week.
Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Tehran was "examining different dimensions" of the offer "about the provisional supply of fuel for the Tehran research reactor."
Uranium enrichment lies at the heart of Western concerns about Iran's nuclear program.
The enrichment process produces fuel for civilian reactors, but higher levels of enrichment the material can be used to make the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
Despite the lack of public details about the plan, and the absence of an Iranian response, elements were already being picked apart.
Amid the delays, Obama on Saturday sought to cement the positions of Russia and France, two key members of the group who have been negotiating with Iran.
The group has often seemed at odds about the need for sanctions despite revelations that Iran had been operating clandestine enrichment facilities.
But in recent weeks Russia and the United States have appeared to have narrowed their positions, as Moscow publicly acknowledged that sanctions are sometimes necessary.
On September 21 Iran disclosure that it had been operating a clandestine enrichment plan triggered widespread global outrage, with US President Barack Obama warning that Tehran would face "increased pressure" if it does not come clean on its nuclear activities.
UN experts arrived in Iran early Sunday to visit a controversial second enrichment plant located near the holy city of Qom for three days of inspections.
After Saturday's call with Medvedev the White House said that both presidents "also underscored the need to maintain Russian and American unity in pursuing our mutual concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
Meanwhile Obama and Sarkozy expressed "US-French unity on Iran, and agreed to continue their close consultations in the weeks ahead."