Reuters: Talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program must have a broad scope and not just focus on a potential fuel swap plan, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
VIENNA (Reuters) – Talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program must have a broad scope and not just focus on a potential fuel swap plan, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
Major powers said on Wednesday they hoped for an early negotiated solution to the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at developing atomic bombs.
The six powers also said they remained ready to resume talks on a short-lived deal struck last year under which Iran would part with some of its low-enriched uranium — bomb material, if refined to a high degree — in exchange for medical research reactor fuel.
Iran, which in recent months has called for speedy negotiations on the fuel swap idea but has listed conditions for broader talks, says its uranium enrichment work is peaceful and geared to generate electricity.
Washington’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency said any further talks on the fuel swap in Vienna would be just one part of farther-reaching discussions.
“There may be a place for that, there may be a role for that, there may be a way that can fit into the overall engagement with Iran,” Glyn Davies told reporters at the IAEA’s annual general assembly, referring to the fuel swap idea.
“But we have decided that after having just the one meeting, October 1 in Geneva last year, and having issued multiple invitations to Iran to come back to the (six-power talks), without any response, that we really must put the emphasis on that and try to get that process started up again.
The original fuel swap plan, brokered by the Vienna-based IAEA last year, had been seen by the West as a way of divesting Iran of the bulk of its low-enriched uranium and a confidence-building measure.
Iran backed away from the offer but then showed renewed interest in a similar plan brokered by Brazil and Turkey ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote in June which slapped a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran over its atomic program.
Western officials say the fuel exchange idea has now lost much of its value because Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile has more than doubled in the interim and Tehran has started enriching uranium to a higher level.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)