VIENNA,(Reuters) – Iran will only accept a two-year moratorium on industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel if it is allowed to run a small-scale enrichment research programme, which would be monitored by U.N. inspectors, a diplomat close to talks between Iran and the EU said on Tuesday.
“Any moratorium of more than two years on industrial-scale production and any suspension of nuclear research activities will make it difficult to reach a deal,” the diplomat said.
On Friday, Iran said it could delay large-scale uranium enrichment for up to two years. European Union negotiators demand a 10-year moratorium on all enrichment activities.
The EU trio of France, Britain, Germany, and the United States, have rejected the idea of allowing Iran to run a small enrichment research programme, arguing that this risks enabling Tehran to master technology it could then use in a covert nuclear weapons programme. Iran denies seeking atomic bombs.
Russia and U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei are pushing the West to let Iran pursue enrichment research on a small scale under U.N. surveillance, diplomats say.
ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Monday a deal to defuse the standoff was still possible after diplomacy involving Russia and the three EU powers.
However, the diplomat reiterated that Iran was determined to go ahead with its nuclear research activities.
“Iran can only delay its industrial-scale enrichment activities for two years. It can be the face-saving solution for the EU,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.
“The face-saving solution for Iran is to enrich uranium on a limited scale for research activities during the two years.”
The IAEA’s 35-nation board is meeting in Vienna this week to consider ElBaradei’s latest report on Iran, which will be forwarded to the U.N. Security Council for possible action.