Vienna : Iran is slowing down the expansion of its enrichment capabilities at its nuclear facilities at Natanz, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday.
Speaking to journalists after a meeting on North Korea, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said his inspectors saw a "fairly marked slowdown" in the process of commissioning new centrifuge cascades and introduction of nuclear material into the cascades for enrichment.
ElBaradei welcomed this development, happening at a "delicate phase" in the negotiations to end the stalemate over Iran's nuclear programme. There was no need for Iran to expand its activities at this point, he added.
Iran showing willingness to halt its controversial enrichment drive could positively influence further actions by the UN Security Council and also pave the way for a return to the negotiating table. ElBaradei stressed, that in his opinion, face- to-face talks between Iran and the US could help greatly to resolve the issue.
Enriched uranium, as produced at the Natanz plant, is used to produce nuclear fuel, but if enriched to a higher degree can be employed to build nuclear weapons. Teheran has repeatedly denied that it is secretly pursing this path.