A key deal between Iran and Western powers on its nuclear program appears to be unravelling. Ed Yeranian has the story from Cairo.
Iran appears to be rejecting a proposal by major world powers, including the U.S., to send quantities of low-grade uranium that it now possesses to Russia and France for further enrichment.
There has been no final official response from Iran, but Iran's Press TV reports that Tehran "expects participants at the Vienna nuclear talks to give a positive response to its own nuclear proposal for supplying Tehran with nuclear fuel."
Under the deal, Iran would get the fuel it needs for its research reactor in Tehran, but would not have enough uranium to make a bomb.
The plan followed talks between the UN, Iran, France, Russia and the United States.
Tehran indicated that it would like to buy nuclear fuel, outright, for its reactor that makes medical isotopes.
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Tehran's reported rejection of the UN-drafted plan to ship its own enriched uranium abroad was followed by a warning on Iran's Press TV that Iran would "enrich its own uranium to the 20 percent level required for the facility if it could not purchase it from abroad."
An unnamed Iranian diplomat was also quoted on government TV as encouraging "confidence-building measures" from world powers" noting that "[they] should refrain from past mistakes in violating agreements and try to win the trust of the Iranian nation."
The US, France, and Russia had given Tehran until Friday to respond positively to their proposal on enriching Iranian uranium stockpiles.
That agreement was presented to Iran Wednesday after three days of discussions in Vienna. Those talks followed a previous meeting at the beginning of October in Geneva that included the highest-level bilateral contact between the U.S. and Iran in recent years.
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency (IAEA), Mohamed al-Baradei, said after the conclusion of the current Vienna talks that he hoped Iran, along with the U.S., France and Russia, would approve the deal by Friday.
Tehran has until now been enriching its own uranium at a plant in Natanz to a 3.5 percent level for a nuclear power plant it is in the process of building in southwestern Iran.
Meanwhile, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) says IAEA inspectors will travel to Iran Saturday to inspect the country's newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom. IRNA says that inspectors will stay for two or three days.
The United States and other Western countries suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its enrichment activities.