The United States is willing to give Iran time
to decide whether to accept a U.N.-brokered deal meant to allay suspicions it is after atomic bombs but which has drawn Iranian objections, a U.S. diplomat said on Monday.
The plan for Iran to part with stocks of potential nuclear explosive material in exchange for fuel to keep a nuclear medicine facility running has stumbled
on Iranian calls for amendments and more talks, which Washington has rejected.
Addressing Iran's misgivings over sending low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad before it gets reactor fuel in return, the U.N. nuclear agency chief has suggested
Iran place the LEU in a friendly third country like Turkey, pending arrival of the fuel.
Iranian and Turkish officials discussed the idea on Monday on the sidelines of an Islamic states conference in Istanbul attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkish officials said. They did not elaborate.
Turkey, with good ties to neighbor Iran, has said it is willing to mediate
in Tehran's long standoff with Western powers over its disputed nuclear energy programme.
A senior Iranian official has dismissed
the idea of Iran parking its LEU in a third country.
But Tehran has yet to give a full, official reply on the proposal drafted by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei three weeks ago after consultations with Iran, France, Russia and the United States.
"There have been communications back and forth. We are in extra innings
in these negotiations. That's sometimes the way these things go," said Glyn Davies, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA.
"We want to give some space to Iran to work through this. It's a tough issue for them, quite obviously, and we're hoping for an early, positive answer from the Iranians
In talks with six powers in Geneva on October 1, Iran agreed
in principle to send the bulk of its LEU to Russia and France for further processing and conversion into fuel plates for the Tehran reactor, Western officials said.
But they said Iran balked
at fleshing out details in Vienna and seemed to retreat
from the point of the Geneva deal -- to minimize the risk of Iran "weaponising" enriched uranium arising from its record of hiding sensitive nuclear work from the IAEA