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Insiders: U.S. Eyes Direct Nuclear Discussions with Iran

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani, shown after his election victory at a June 17 news conference in Tehran. The United States is expected to invite Iran to direct nuclear negotiations within weeks (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi). Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani, shown after his election victory at a June 17 news conference in Tehran. The United States is expected to invite Iran to direct nuclear negotiations within weeks (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi).

The U.S. government is expected in the next few weeks to issue an invitation to Iran for bilateral talks on the Persian Gulf nation's atomic activities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

A succession of multilateral discussions held over the last decade has failed to clear up global worries over the potential for Iran's ostensibly civilian atomic program to support development of a nuclear-weapon capability. Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful.

Still, a more sweeping compromise offer remains off the table for Obama officials, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

"Words that indicate Iran might be going in a different direction," one high-level U.S. insider said Washington told the Journal. "But we don't know this yet."

The source said Iran's growing uranium enrichment capacity could reduce the U.S. estimate of how long Tehran would need to complete a nuclear weapon. To date, Tehran has intentionally avoided stockpiling sufficient bomb-sensitive material to cross a 550-pound threshold established last year by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"They're edging up to the red line. They haven't crossed it yet," Agence-France Presse quoted Netanyahu as saying on Sunday.

"They're getting closer and closer to the bomb," he told CBS News. "They have to be told in no uncertain terms that that will not be allowed to happen."

Meanwhile, Tehran on Friday rejected an exile organization's assertion that a clandestine atomic facility has been built in eastern Iran, AFP reported.

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Iran

This article provides an overview of Iran's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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