Iran Misses Nuke Deal Deadline

Iran wants to wait until next week to decide whether to sign the pact.

ByABC News
October 23, 2009, 2:13 PM

Oct. 23, 2009— -- Iran failed to meet a deadline today for accepting a draft deal on its nuclear program, telling the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog it needed more time to provide a response.

"Iran informed the Director General [Mohamed El Baradei] that it is considering the proposal in depth and in a favorable light, but it needs time until the middle of next week," the U.N. agency said in a statement.

The U.S., France, and Russia have all agreed to the deal, which they had negotiated with Iran earlier this week in Vienna. The pact details plans to export the majority of Iran's low enriched uranium in exchange for more highly enriched nuclear fuel rods. It would have satisfied Western powers by converting Iran's uranium stockpile into a form that is harder to use in building a nuclear weapon.

"It comes as no surprise that Iran is mulling over it and considering ways in which that agreement could be improved on or further refined," said Kaveh Afrasiabi, an Iranian analyst with ties to the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "I'm still optimistic that Iran will agree to a modified version of the agreement."

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "We are looking for Iran to make concrete steps and there is an agreement in principle to make concrete steps."

The deal was designed to provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that produces radioisotopes for medical purposes, including cancer treatment.

Experts say the sticking points on the deal, from Iran's perspective, are how much of its uranium would be sent abroad and in how many installments. The original deal called for 1,200 kg, or roughly 80 percent of its stockpile, sent in one shipment.