Intense negotiations are continuing to try to reach a deal over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. Diplomats are pushing a compromise suggested by Russia, allowing Iran to run a small-scale enrichment facility. But the US has said only a complete cessation of nuclear activity will do. The Russian Foreign Minister has travelled to Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and President George W. Bush.
And UN nuclear watchdog boss Mohammed El Baradei says the issue will be debated again at a meeting in Vienna either today or tomorrow: “The sticking point as you have seen remains the question of their centrifuge-related R and D (research and development), and this issue is still again being discussed this week and I am still very much hopeful that in the next week or so an agreement could be reached.” Iran continues to insist it has a right to carry out nuclear research, according to the IAEA ambassador Aliasghar Soltanieh: “It is hard to compromise our inalienable right for peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as R and D, which is a research. No nation could deprive the scientists from doing their research.” Iran maintains its programme is to generate electricity, not produce bombs. But Western powers are sceptical and say the country could use the knowledge to produce atomic weapons. Iran is facing censure from the IAEA which could culminate in sanctions being imposed.