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U.S. Sees Advance In Iran Nuclear Cooperation

U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Barack Obama's top security adviser has dismissed a report that Iran was closer to making an atomic bomb and said Iranian cooperation in the last few weeks was good for nuclear non-proliferation.

"For now things are moving in the right direction," National Security Adviser Jim Jones said on CNN's "State of the Union" program on October 4.

The "New York Times" reported on October 3 that a confidential analysis by staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Iran has acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce" a bomb.

Asked whether Iran was closer to having a bomb, Jones said: "No, we stand by the reports that we have put out."

"What has happened with regard to Iran in the last couple of weeks has been very significant," Jones said, pointing to the Iranian decision to open a new uranium enrichment facility near the holy Shi'ite city of Qom for inspection.

IAEA chief Mohammed el-Baradei announced on October 4 in Tehran that the U.N. nuclear watchdog will inspect the site on October 25, and he praised a shift "from conspiracy to cooperation" in Iran's dealing with the West.

Iran, which rejects Western charges that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons, held talks with six world powers in Geneva on Thursday. Western officials said that in the talks, Iran had agreed "in principle" to ship out most of its enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France.

Jones said the next meeting with Iran on October 19 will discuss the methodology for the transfer of about 1,200 kilos of low enriched uranium to Russia.

"The fact that Iran came to the table and seemingly showed some degree of cooperation is a good thing," Jones told CNN.

"Clearly, on non-proliferation, whether it is North Korea or Iran, the world is sending its own message to both countries and fortunately we are seeing some positive reaction to that," Jones said.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said she was "not in a position to characterize (the New York Times) report or our intelligence.

"There are various assessments and they don't all align," Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"What happened last week was a constructive beginning but it was only a beginning. The onus is now squarely on Iran to adhere to the commitments it has made."