Nuclear Talks in Vienna: Tehran Says, France Must Be Excluded

Representatives from Iran, the United States, Russia and France held nuclear talks for four hours on Monday in Vienna.

At the end of a nearly four-hour session, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said little about the negotiations other than “We’re off to a good start.”

Other participants in the talks, which filled an oversize conference room at the agency’s headquarters, said that although Iran’s representatives did not reject outright the idea of sending the country’s fuel to Russia and France for further enrichment, its negotiators stopped well short of reaffirming the statements the country made in talks on Oct. 1.

In Tehran on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottak said that Iran had no plans to halt its disputed uranium enrichment work , The New York Times reports .

It was also reported, I ranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday that there is no need for France to supply Iran with nuclear fuel as talks were underway in Vienna to discuss how to provide the 20 percent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor in Tehran.

"Iran made the proposal of acquiring fuel for the reactor in Tehran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the message was conveyed to several countries," Mottaki told a press conference in Tehran.

"The United States and Russia accepted to have a part in providing the fuel and the talks will be held with these two countries in the presence of the IAEA," he said.

"We do not need that much fuel and therefore we do not need a lot of countries to provide the fuel for us," Mottaki said, adding "that's why we don't think France must be included in the talks , " Xinhua reports.

News agencies also report, t he teams from Tehran and Paris appeared to make a point of leaving the room together. And diplomats played down suggestions that the delay was over the foreign minister's comments. Related article: Uranium enrichment explained.

"It's just regular diplomacy as delegations try to advance the issues," one diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"It is not about the continued French participation but rather about how to best structure a deal so that everyone can be satisfied. Even beyond the politics this is complicated," the diplomat said.

On Monday, Iranian media said Tehran did not want France at the negotiating table, because it had not fulfilled "previous obligations regarding nuclear cooperation with Iran."

State-owned Al-Alam television channel quoted an informed source close to Tehran's negotiating team in Vienna as saying France "does not have an acceptable record and since it also obstructed the negotiations between Iran and the IAEA."

Howevver, d iplomats taking part in the talks insisted that France was still on board. "France remains at the talks," one diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had said the negotiations had gotten off to a "constructive" start , AFP reports.

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