West 'disappointed' at Iran's position on deal

IAEA head hopes Iran won

The West is "disappointed" over Iran's failure to respond positively to a UN-brokered nuclear deal, diplomats said in a statement Friday following a meeting of the UN Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany. However, no new sanctions were discussed during the meeting, according to an EU source. "We urge Iran to reconsider the opportunity offered by this agreement ... and to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations," the statement said, noting that Teheran had not responded positively to the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency. An EU official said there was no mention of imposing further sanctions against Iran at the meeting. "These things are a matter of timing, and this was not the right time for it," said the official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Western officials said they would hold a follow-up meeting around Christmas. The talks in Brussels involved political directors - foreign ministry officials below ministerial level. The United States was represented by Undersecretary of State William Burns, and Russia by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The talks came just a day after a day after US President Barack Obama said the six nations will develop a package of serious new punitive measures in coming weeks. He did not give details. On Wednesday, Teheran indicated it would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, effectively rejecting the latest plan brokered by the IAEA and aimed at delaying Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon. Under the IAEA plan, Iran would export its uranium for enrichment in Russia and France where it would be converted into fuel rods, which would be returned to Iran about a year later. The rods can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material. A statement issued by the political directors expressed disappointment over Iran's failure to engage in intensified dialogue since a promising meeting on October 1 in Geneva. The West says Teheran agreed in principle to export that amount in one shipment during the Geneva talks - something Iranian officials have denied. In Berlin, Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN nuclear watchdog agency chief, pressed Iran to work with the international community. "I would hate to see that we are moving back to sanctions," ElBaradei said. "Because sanctions, at the end of the day ... really don't resolve issues." He said the IAEA had not yet received a formal reply from Teheran to its proposals, although Iranian officials had told him they would not send uranium for reprocessing abroad unless they first received promised fuel rods. "Well, that to me is an extreme case of distrust," ElBaradei said. "And what we are really trying to do is replace distrust by a degree of trust." In Washington, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the US has not given up hope that Iran will accept and implement the uranium exchange. "We continue to call on Iran to accept this proposal with regard to the Teheran research reactor. We think it's a good one," Wood said. "We think it's a great way for Iran to show, if, indeed, its intentions are peaceful, that they want to cooperate with the international community with regard to its nuclear program." Iranian Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki on Thursday played down the threat of sanctions saying embargoes had proved ineffective in the past and that he didn't believe they would be tried again.