TEHRAN, Iran,AP-Iran said Sunday it had agreed to postpone its controversial nuclear program until the end of July to give European negotiators time to prepare a proposal acceptable to Tehran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The announcement was the first indication by Iran it would continue its temporary freeze on uranium enrichment and followed last month”s talks with negotiators in which Iran agreed to review a European Union proposal for a new round of talks this summer.
"After reviewing and discussing the Europeans” proposal, Iran has announced its agreement. Europeans have time up to the end of July to prepare details of their proposal," Ali Aghamohammadi, a spokesman for Iran”s Supreme National Security Council, told the news agency.
"To make Iran”s nuclear facilities active in a proper way, both sides should work toward providing guarantees."
The announcement provides a temporary respite in the dispute over Iran”s nuclear program, which the United States suspects is for building weapons but which Tehran maintains is for generating electricity. Six months of talks with Europe have made no progress on the key issue of contention: Iran”s insistence on the right to enrich uranium and European opposition to such plans.
France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation EU, want Tehran to abandon its enrichment activities in exchange for economic aid, technical support and backing for Iran”s efforts to join the World Trade Organization.
The EU has threatened to take Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it resumes uranium reprocessing. Tehran says it will not give up its right to enrichment but is prepared to offer guarantees that it is not seeking to build nuclear weapons.
Iran suspended enrichment in November under international pressure led by the United States.
Aghamohammadi said Hasan Rowhani, Iran”s top nuclear negotiator, would begin a one-week tour to Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Monday to discuss the progress of the nuclear talks.