TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday called a U.S. intelligence estimate that concluded Iran stopped developing a nuclear weapons program four years ago a ``step forward,'' and he said more such steps could create an ``entirely different'' situation between the two countries.
``We consider this measure by the U.S. government a positive step. It is a step forward,'' Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
``If one or two other steps are taken, the issues we have in front of us will be entirely different and will lose their complexity, and the way will be open for the resolution of basic issues in the region and in dealings between the two sides,'' he said.
Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful, but until last week, the United States and Western allies had countered that Iran was hiding plans for a bomb. The latest U.S. intelligence assessment on Iran, however, says Tehran once had a weapons program but shelved it in 2003.
On Tuesday, diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are to discuss a draft plan for new United Nations sanctions against Iran. If passed by the Security Council, the plan would slap a third round of sanctions on Iran for defying international demands that it halt its enrichment of uranium.