The United States and five leading world powers meeting in Brussels expressed disappointment Friday that Iran had not accepted a uranium enrichment offer, even as the outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency urged Tehran to agree to the plan.
The Brussels meeting came just two days after Iran rejected a proposal to further enrich its low-enrichment uranium overseas. On October 1, Tehran appeared to have accepted the deal, which was brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The agreement would have also helped ease international fears that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes only.
Representatives at the Brussels meeting -- from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- did not speak to reporters. But they issued a statement after the talks, saying they were disappointed with Iran and urged the country to reconsider the offer.
That message was echoed in Berlin by IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei, who said he hoped the two sides could reach agreement by the year's end. "Iran needs to engage with the international community. They have a lot to gain in terms of trade, in terms of technology. The international community has a lot to gain by regularizing relations with Iran. Iran in my view is a gateway to stability in the Middle East and Afghanistan, in Iraq and Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, so it's a win-win situation and if we are not able to make use of this opportunity, I think it will be a real shame," he said.
On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the six nations meeting in Brussels would develop proposals for tough new measures against Iran in the coming weeks.