UN pressures Iran with nuclear compromise plan

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mohamed el-Baradei

Mohamed el-Baradei, head of the U.N. watchdog group International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), may go directly to Tehran some time this week with a compromise plan to reduce the possibility that Iran may make use of its uranium enrichment program to produce nuclear arms.

Under a compromise plan negotiated last week between the EU-3 (consisting of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) and the United States, a loose agreement was reached where the final stages of nuclear enrichment within Iran, uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, would be transferred to Russia.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who heads the nuclear program in Iran, rejected the proposal on Saturday, insisting that the uranium enrichment program must be carried out in Iran. The rejection came after a meeting with Russian foreign minister of affairs Igor Ivanov. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, denied the meetings were to develop a nuclear program partnership with Russia that specifically relates to the new IAEA proposal.

The IAEA board will meet on November 24, when they may decide to refer Iran for possible economic sanctions before the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has distanced the United States from the short deadline for Iran to conform to the new plan. A state department spokesman, Adam Ereli said on Thursday that, "The secretary does not conduct diplomacy by deadline."

Enriched uranium can be used to generate energy or to make nuclear weapons, a capability Tehran claims is their right to pursue for the peaceful purposes of generating electricity.