Iran Nuclear 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran, though offering to briefly suspend enrichment, still refuses to do so before talks on its nuclear program begin, a key demand by six world powers backed by the threat of UN sanctions, officials said Tuesday.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press as the IAEA's 35-nation board reconvened at a session that would focus on Iran, possibly as early as Tuesday. The officials, from delegations familiar with the outcome of recent EU-Iran negotiations, demanded anonymity in exchange for divulging confidential information.
Editor's Notes: Gridlock
Those talks, between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Ali Larijani, the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator, ended over the weekend with Tehran's offer to suspend enrichment, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, for up to two months.
But it had not been clear whether Tehran was ready to meet demands that it suspend before any new talks on its nuclear program.
Tehran already is in violation of an Aug. 31 UN Security Council deadline to freeze enrichment.
Additionally, the six powers, the five permanent council members plus Germany, have conditioned talks with Iran that could give it economic and political rewards on a commitment from the Islamic republic to freeze enrichment before the start of such negotiations.
The six-power talks are aimed at persuading Iran to agree to a long-term moratorium on enrichment. But Tehran has said it would not give up its right to the full range of nuclear technology and expertise, including enrichment, which it says it needs to develop to meet future nuclear power needs.
Still Tehran's readiness to consider even a temporary pause is significant because it could de-escalate the nuclear standoff if the six powers agree that Iran's terms on enrichment and other conditions it set out in the weekend Vienna talks are acceptable for a start to negotiations.