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Iran's nuclear program: talk of international consortium

Western and Iranian officials consider new framework as Iran program progresses.

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Foreign Minister: Iran's Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday a proposal to involve the West in uranium enrichment in Iran could be considered.

VAHID SALEMI/AP

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Interest is growing in a possible US-Iran nuclear compromise that could enable sensitive atomic work on Iranian soil, lower the risks of proliferation, and ease Iran's isolation.

Despite a series of UN sanctions designed to halt Iran's ability to enrich uranium, Iran has continued to make progress. And a growing number of Western and Iranian officials and analysts, arguing that turning back the clock is impossible, are pushing for a new framework to ensure that Iran's nuclear work is aimed at peaceful, not military, applications.

On the agenda is a proposal to turn Iran's uranium-enrichment program into a multilateral consortium on Iranian soil, bringing Western eyes and expertise directly into the project in a bid to minimize potential weapons danger. In exchange, the West would end Iran's pariah status.

"Now we are in the point of realizing our right to enrich uranium in our land in Iran, by our own people," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Monitor during a conference on nuclear issues in Tehran. "If any proposal is there for joining to this activity, we can consider that."

US policy has focused on convincing or forcing Iran to give up uranium enrichment – a process that Iran says it wants to create nuclear fuel for power plants, but which can be used for nuclear weapons if taken to higher levels. But sanctions have not curbed Iran's program, spurring Iran instead to refuse to step back "one iota" from peaceful nuclear technology.

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