Tehran edges towards nuclear deal

Atomic watchdog 'crossing fingers' that Iran will heed Friday deadline

The UN nuclear watchdog has given Iran a draft agreement designed to check the country's ability to acquire a nuclear arsenal and says it wants an answer from Tehran by tomorrow. Under the programme, 1.2 tonnes of the Islamic Republic's 1.5 tonne reserve of low-enriched uranium would be shipped to Russia and France by the end of the year and converted into fuel – a process that aims to prevent Iran manufacture nuclear weapons.

The draft deal from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was circulated to Iranian officials along with representatives from three Western powers – the US, Russia and France – at talks being held in Vienna. IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said: "I cross my fingers that by Friday we have an OK by all the parties concerned."

He said there had been complex technical and legal issues to address over the three days of talks as well as " issues of confidence and trust. That is why it has taken us some time and that is why we need to send the agreement to capitals for approval". He added: "I hope people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a normalisation of relations between Iran and the international community."

Mr ElBaradei did not disclose details of the plan, but senior diplomatic sources said it was essentially the one agreed in principle at talks earlier this month in Geneva regarding 1,200kg of uranium, around 80 per cent of the total Iran holds.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate, said the draft was "on the right track" but added that officials back in Tehran would need to "thoroughly study this text and... come back and reflect our opinion and suggestions or comments in order to have an amicable solution". No Iranian official has even acknowledged that Iranian uranium would be sent out for enrichment and a number of senior figures associated with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have made combative statements while the Vienna talks have been taking place about the country's "right" to carry out its own enriching process.

European and American officials sounded a note of caution saying that Iran still had plenty of " wriggle room" to avoid fulfilling the terms of the agreement including the time and pace at which the uranium is shipped out.

Responding to the suggestion that Iran would "string out" the process for as long as possible, a senior Western diplomat said that dealing with Tehran was "a bit like groundhog day, except that in the film you wake up and nothing has changed, whereas with this you wake up and things are just that little bit worse."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor