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Iran Considering Nuclear 'Time-Out' Proposal

Igor Ivanov (right) being greeted in Tehran by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on January 28 (epa) January 29, 2007 -- Iran says it needs more time to study a proposal from the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency for a nuclear "time-out."

Under the proposal, both Iranian nuclear work and UN sanctions on Iran would be suspended.

"Iran needs time to review such an initiative to see whether it has the capacity to resolve Iran's nuclear issue," chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said January 28.

Visiting Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, who appeared with Larijani at a joint news conference in Tehran, said the "time-out" proposal from International Atomic Energy Agency head Muhammad el-Baradei should be considered by Iran's government.

El-Baradei said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week that any military action by foreign countries against Iranian nuclear sites could have disastrous consequences and called for a "time-out" so dialogue can be pursued.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear sites.

(Reuters, AFP)

Talking Technical

Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.