Report: US drawing up new, tougher nuclear deal for Iran
New York Times says Washington, European partners to demand that Islamic Republic ship out almost 2,000 kg of low-enriched uranium. 'We have to convince them that life will get worse, not better, if they don't begin to move,' US official says. Iran to hold military drill in November to test air-defense, electronic warfare systems
The United States and its European allies are preparing a new, tougher deal over Iran's nuclear program, in a first test of the weight of broader economic sanctions, The New York Times reported.
The offer would have Iran ship out more than 4,400 pounds (1,995 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium, more than two thirds the amount rejected by Tehran under a tentative deal struck in Vienna a year ago, senior officials told the daily.
The increase reflects Iran's growing production of uranium over the past year and US concerns that Iran has less than one nuclear bomb's worth of uranium on hand, according to the officials quoted in an article posted on the newspaper's website and published in Thursday's print edition.
"This will be a first sounding about whether the Iranians still think they can tough it out or are ready to negotiate," a senior American official told the newspaper.
"We have to convince them that life will get worse, not better, if they don't begin to move."
Another senior US official said the United States and its European partners were "very close to having an agreement" to present to Iran.
'Bullying powers have created brouhaha'
But the Islamic republic has yet to respond to a request by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents world powers in the nuclear dialogue with Iran, to meet in Vienna in mid-November.
The Times said many US officials suspect the new initiative under development is likely to fail, but would fulfill US President Barack Obama's promise to keep negotiating even while the pressure of sanctions increases.
Iran has signaled it is ready to discuss a possible exchange of atomic fuel at the upcoming talks for a Tehran-based research reactor after consultations broke down last year between the Islamic republic and the Vienna group comprising France, Russia, the United States and the UN atomic watchdog.
Under an initial proposal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran would send more than 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilograms) of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into the fuel rods required for the Tehran reactor.
In May, Iran responded by its own counter-proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil, which was cold-shouldered by the West before the United Nations Security Council slapped a fresh round of sanctions on Tehran less than a month later. Several countries imposed further unilateral sanctions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in New York last month that Iran was willing to resume negotiations with the world powers, but a date for the beginnig of the talks has yet to be set.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week that the Iranian nation can overcome problems caused by sanctions.
Addressing a gathering of foreign theological seminary students and clerics in Qom on Monday, he said, “The world bullying powers have created brouhaha about sanctions on Iran, but this nation has overcome sanctions over the past 30 years with its patience and resistance."
Military drill in November
Meanwhile, Iranian media reported that the country is expected to hold a large-scale military exercise in late November.
The Mehr news agency said the drill will be held across the country in four phases and Iran's Armed Forces, including the army and the IRGS, will take part in the maneuver.
In the massive air, land and sea exercise, various defensive equipment including tanks, personnel carriers, ballistic missiles and vessels will be put on display, the report added.
In addition, various radar systems, modern anti-aircraft missile systems, anti-armor and electronic warfare systems, fighter bombers as well as destroyers will be showcased in the drill.
According to the report, Iran will also display its modern artillery systems, including an anti-cruise missile 23 mm cannon with eight barrels and a high rate of fire.
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