Published: October 19, 2009
VIENNA — Iran opened two days of nuclear talks with the United States, Russia and France on Monday with veiled public threats that it could back awayfrom an agreement to ship more than three-quarters of its stockpile of nuclear fuel out of the country, unless the West acceded to Iranian demands to provide it with new fuel.
Representatives fromIran, the United States, Russia and France held nuclear talks for four hours on Monday in Vienna.
At the end of a nearly four-hour session, the director general of the International Atomic EnergyAgency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said little about the negotiations other than “We’re off to a good start.”
Other participants in the talks, which filled an oversize conference room at the agency’sheadquarters, said that although Iran’s representatives did not reject outright the idea of sending the country’s fuel to Russia and France for further enrichment, its negotiators stopped well short ofreaffirming the statements the country made in talks on Oct. 1.
“This was opening-day posturing,” one participant in the talks said, declining to be identified because all sides had agreed not to discuss thespecifics of the negotiations. “The Iranians are experienced at this, and you have to expect that their opening position isn’t going to be the one you want to hear.”
The talks are advertised as ameeting of technical experts, but much more is at stake. If Iran carries out its plan to use its own low-enriched uranium — produced in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions — to fuel areactor in Tehran used for medical purposes, American officials say that that use would set aside, for about a year, fears that Iran could use the fuel to produce a nuclear weapon. After that, Iran’scontinuing production of uranium would refill its stockpiles.
“Our object is to get a sizable amount of low-enriched uranium out of the country of Iran, making the world more secure,” said Robert...