Iran is pushing to make its own power-reactor fuel, potentially hampering efforts to resolve an international nuclear standoff by July, Reuters reports.
Tehran last month told six other governments it wants to enrich uranium for its Bushehr atomic-energy facility under a potential nuclear deal with the powers, the wire service said on Tuesday. The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany are seeking a long-term accord to rein in the Persian Gulf power's uranium-refinement efforts, as well as other Iranian activities seen as possible stepping stones toward nuclear weapons.
Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. A negotiator for the "P-5+1" nations, though, said allowing the nation to retain an enrichment capacity sufficient to fuel the Bushehr plant would enable Tehran to produce higher-purity uranium for a bomb in a "very short" amount of time.
"They expect to get capacity to fuel Bushehr and that's unrealistic," the diplomat said.
Iran agreed three years ago to buy Russian uranium for the plant until 2021. Moscow hopes to remain the supplier and may oppose the Iranian proposal, according to Reuters.
The apparent disagreement fed into doubts that diplomats would reach a deal by July 20, when an interim atomic accord between the nations is scheduled to expire. Western government personnel said the sides would almost certainly increase the short-term deal's duration by six months, unless negotiators devise unexpected solutions to the standoff at a June 16-20 meeting planned in Vienna, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the European Union and Canada issued separate statements urging Iran to speed up disclosures to international nuclear investigators, the wire service reported separately on Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency is examining allegations that the Middle Eastern nation once engaged in studies relevant to nuclear-arms development.