Iran is considering an offer by key European nations to resolve the stalemate with the International Atomic Energy Agency on its uranium-enrichment program.
Iran has promised to consider an offer made by France, Germany and Britain, under which Tehran would receive nuclear technology, if it gives up parts of its nuclear program that could be used to make weapons.
Iran says it has a legal right to uranium enrichment, and will not abandon what it claims is a purely peaceful nuclear program. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has requested Iran abandon uranium enrichment to build confidence, after several omissions and contradictions were found in Tehran's nuclear declaration.
The three European powers offered a similar deal to Iran a year ago, to encourage the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment.
Iran partially, but never completely, abandoned its program. That caused irritation in Europe, which preferred negotiations before referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
The United States is convinced that Iran has long been working on a secret nuclear-weapons program and is stalling to buy time. Washington has not mobilized enough support on the 35 nation IAEA Board of Governors to bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council. The IAEA board is to reconsider the matter next month.
Gary Samore, head of the International Institute of Strategic Studies says an outright Iranian rejection of the European compromise could force the issue. "If Iran does not restore the suspension of its enrichment program, I think it's very likely, and yes I think, the (IAEA) board should then at its meeting in late November report Iranian non-compliance to the Security Council," he said. "That appears the most likely course of action."
In Washington, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington is waiting to see what Iran's response will be. "Are they going to comply with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of directors? Are they going to carry out their obligations, or not? And that's what we'll be looking for. I don't know if it will come today. I don't know if it will come tomorrow. Unfortunately, history would lead us to believe the answer is going to be no."
Iran has not yet rejected the deal, and may be tempted by the offer of valuable nuclear technology.