The European Union is proposing that Iran be allowed to continue its uranium enrichment processes if it agrees to tight United Nations supervision of its nuclear program, diplomatic sources told Haaretz on Wednesday.
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The issue was reportedly discussed during the recent P5+1 talks concerning Iran's contentious nuclear program, which concluded earlier this week in Geneva.
According to the proposal, Tehran would be able to continue enriching uranium if it agreed to close supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would include surprise checkups.
At the two-day talks, the powers sought to put concerted pressure on Iran to agree to discuss its nuclear work, which the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran denies this, claiming that it only has peaceful nuclear ambitions.
Diplomatic sources told Haaretz on Wednesday indicated that the offer would be discussed in further detail at the next round of talks, scheduled to take place in Istanbul at the beginning of next year.
The initiative, which had been discussed in general terms in past nuclear talks, was led by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton during the recent two-day talks.
The sources told Haaretz that the U.S. administration wasnt "thrilled" that the EU and Ashton had situated themselves at the forefront of global efforts to tackle Iran's nuclear program.
But, the sources said, the U.S. was willing to let the EU take a central role if it meant that Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions.
The Geneva round of talks did not do much to change the pessimism as to the possibility of any deal with Iran, as most UN diplomats estimating that Iran was only trying to buy more time.
Earlier this week, Iran's chief negotiator to nuclear talks said that Tehran would not consider relenting on its right for uranium enrichment.
"I am announcing openly and clearly that Iran will not discuss a uranium enrichment halt in the next meeting in Istanbul with major powers," Saeed Jalili told a news conference after the talks.
Underlining how far apart the two sides remain, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said negotiations with the West could work if sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities were scrapped -- a likely non-starter for major powers.