U.S., Germany say Iran not ready for nuclear deal

The United States and Germany said on Saturday they saw no sign Tehran would make concessions on its nuclear programme, despite upbeat comments from Iran’s foreign minister over prospects for a deal.

Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki said he had “a very good meeting” with the head of the U.N. nuclear agency on a plan to swap Iran’s low-enriched uranium for higher-grade nuclear fuel to be used in a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said he wanted dialogue with Iran to speed up.

“Dialogue is continuing, this should be accelerated. That’s the point,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich.

An accord on exchanging fuel could mark a major breakthrough in the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West fears could be used to produce an atomic bomb.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran had failed to address Western concerns and suggested it was time for more sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which denies its nuclear programme has a military goal.

“I don’t have the sense that we’re close to an agreement,” Gates told reporters in Ankara where he met Turkish leaders.

Mottaki said on Friday he saw good prospects for agreement, but restated two conditions that could be stumbling blocks — that any fuel exchange must be simultaneous and that Iran would determine quantities involved.


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