Vienna: Iran signalled ahead of international talks on Monday that it will not meet Western demands for a deal that would move most of its enriched uranium out of the country and delay its gaining the ability to make a nuclear bomb.
Tehran says it needs enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, but the West fears it could be used for weapons. The US says Iran is now one to six years away from being able to make such arms, should it choose to.
Tehran`s refusal to give up most of its enriched stock could doom both today`s talks and chances of a second round of broader negotiations between Tehran and six world powers on the Islamic Republic`s nuclear programme.
Today`s Vienna talks between Tehran and the US, Russia and France, focus on a technical issue with huge strategic ramifications, whether Iran is ready to farm out some of its uranium enrichment programme to a foreign country.
Progress would strengthen confidence on the part of the US and five other big powers trying to persuade Iran to dispel fears about its nuclear programme that this time Tehran is serious about reducing tensions and ready to build on Geneva talks with six world powers.
Beyond that, it could give the international community more negotiating space by delaying Tehran`s ability to turn what is now a civilian uranium enrichment program into an assembly line producing fissile warhead material.