Iranian nuclear facility in Bushehr
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
'It's going to take time.' Obama
Photo: AP

Obama: Hard for Iran to make quick decisions

US president says world powers made 'fair' offer to Iran that would allow it to have legitimate civilian nuclear program, but unsettled political situation making it difficult for Tehran to seal nuclear fuel deal

An unsettled political situation in Iran may be complicating efforts to seal a nuclear fuel deal between Tehran and major world powers, President Barack Obama said on Monday.


Obama told Reuters in an interview that the United States had made more progress toward global nuclear non-proliferation in the last several months than in the past several years.


"But it is going to take time, and part of the challenge that we face is that neither North Korea nor Iran seem to be settled enough politically to make quick decisions on these issues," he said at the White House.


Obama said the United States, along with Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, had made a "fair" offer to Iran that would allow it to have a legitimate civilian nuclear program while allaying suspicions that it was seeking to build atomic weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.


The proposal by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency calls for Iran to transfer about 75% of its known 1.5 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates for a Tehran reactor that produces radio isotopes for cancer treatment.


In talks with six world powers in Geneva on October 1, Iran agreed in principle to the draft deal.

But the deal has since stalled over details and goals and Iranian suspicions that any nuclear fuel sent abroad will not be returned to them.


"Although so far we have not seen the kind of positive response we want from Iran, we are as well positioned as we've ever been to align the international community behind that agenda," Obama said.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN overnight Tuesday that Israel supports a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis or the imposition of sanctions against Tehran, but added that all other options remain on the table.


In an interview held after a day of talks with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama's senior adviser on Iran Dennis Ross and other officials, Barak said time was of the essence because, according to him, Iran already possesses enough nuclear material to produce one nuclear bomb.


According to the Israeli defense minister, transferring 75% of Iran's uranium would set its nuclear program back a year but would not prevent it from continuing to enrich uranium.


Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 11.10.09, 08:13
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