EU waiting for word from Russia over possible nuclear deal

European Union officials said Monday they were awaiting confirmation of a preliminary deal between Iran and Russia to establish a joint uranium enrichment venture.

The two countries' nuclear chiefs announced at a Tehran news conference Sunday that they have agreed in principle to the plan, which could mark a breakthrough in efforts to ease international concerns that Iran could develop nuclear weapons.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government has not been informed of a deal and he expected some clarification or confirmation later Monday from Moscow.

The two sides have been in talks since last week and negotiations were to continue on the details of the Russian proposal.

The plan to move Iran's uranium enrichment program to Russia is meant to provide more guarantees that Tehran's production of nuclear fuel cannot be used to build weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is only for power generation, but the United States and the European Union fear Iran is aiming to develop weapons.

"We must await and see to confirm what we are hearing," Steinmeier told reporters at meeting of EU foreign ministers, adding that he was happy that negotiations with Iran were continuing.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner said the EU "was not aware of any agreement," adding that she could not confirm whether the deal reached was a breakthrough, as Iran has claimed.

The deal could deflect any move by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency at a March 6 meeting to recommend the Security Council consider action on Iran, reports the AP.


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