However, his Iranian counterpart, IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh, made a somewhat more optimistic pronouncement. “Some differences were overcome and we agreed on certain points," he said. He also alluded to a future meeting. Meanwhile, a headline from Press TV, Iran's English-language news service, read: "Iran, IAEA reach basic agreement."
Iran's nuclear program has been surrounded by mixed signals in recent weeks. As the Monitor's Scott Peterson reported yesterday, Iran has taken a number of steps lately that seem to indicate it is slowing down its nuclear progress, possibly to avoid reaching the point at which Israel would feel compelled to retaliate. It has converted some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, taking it out of the mix for use in potential nuclear weapons, and seems to have made no strides forward in its development of longer-range weapons that could carry a nuclear warhead.
But it also announced yesterday, as Iranian officials met with IAEA inspectors, the installation of a new generation of centrifuges for enriching uranium, which could "significantly speed up its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear weapon," Reuters reports.