Reuters: Iran could agree to freeze uranium enrichment for six months at most and only provided the European Union abandons its demand that Tehran scrap enrichment for good,
a senior Iranian security official said on Monday. Tehran risks being reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it does not freeze enrichment before the ... Reuters

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN - Iran could agree to freeze uranium enrichment for six months at most and only provided the European Union abandons its demand that Tehran scrap enrichment for good, a senior Iranian security official said on Monday.

Tehran risks being reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it does not freeze enrichment before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board meets on Nov. 25.

Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to produce fuel for atomic power reactors generating electricity. But the same process can also be used to make atomic bombs.

The EU says the enrichment suspension should be indefinite. Iran wants its duration linked to Iran-EU negotiations on a package of incentives aimed at resolving the nuclear dispute.

Asked how long Iran would be prepared to freeze enrichment for, Hossein Mousavian, foreign policy committee secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told Reuters:

"We can agree to a period of two to three months, maximum six months, to finalise the package."

But he said that if the EU maintained its position that Iran must scrap its nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, "then, if not now, in some months we will reach a confrontation."

EU and Iranian negotiators are due to meet in Paris on Friday for a third round of talks over Iran's nuclear programme.

The EU is offering Iran a guaranteed supply of imported nuclear fuel, help with a light-water power reactor and resumed trade talks if Tehran agrees to scrap enrichment forever.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran should suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities as a confidence-building measure.

"I have continued to stress to Iran that, in light of serious international concerns surrounding its nuclear programme, it should do its utmost to build confidence through these voluntary measures." ElBaradei said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

50 PERCENT CHANCE OF A DEAL

Mousavian said the chances of reaching a compromise before the IAEA meeting were currently 50-50.

"The cessation of uranium enrichment is already rejected. It is our red line and if it is the Europeans' condition then it is better to leave the talks now."

"(But) if the Europeans' concern is to be assured that Iran's (uranium) enrichment will never in the future be diverted from peaceful purposes ... there's a very good chance of reaching a compromise."

Mousavian has said Iran is ready, if necessary, to defend itself in the U.N. Security Council and thinks it unlikely sanctions would be imposed on Tehran over the nuclear issue.

As a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to mine, process and enrich uranium to make reactor fuel under IAEA supervision.

While IAEA inspectors have found several instances of potentially weapons-related research and activities in Iran they have found no clear evidence it is trying to make atom bombs.

Iran's hardliner-dominated parliament on Sunday approved a bill which calls on the state to continue to develop a civilian nuclear energy programme, including the full nuclear fuel cycle.

Asked whether the bill could force the government to resume enrichment as some deputies have demanded, Mousavian said:

"No, it just means that Iran's rights should be respected and there should be no discrimination against it."