Iran ‘signs nuclear fuel-swap deal with Turkey’

17 May

Iran ‘signs nuclear fuel-swap deal with Turkey’ – BBC News

Source: BBC News

Iran has agreed a deal to send uranium abroad for enrichment after mediation talks with Turkish and Brazilian leaders, officials in Tehran say.

Iran’s foreign ministry said it was ready to ship 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, in return for nuclear fuel for a research reactor.

There are no details of the plan, which could revive a UN-backed proposal.

The West is worried that Iran is trying to build a bomb. Iran denies having a weapons programme.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed the deal in Tehran.

“Turkey will be the place to keep Iran’s 3.5% [low-enriched]uranium,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news briefing.

He said that 1,200kg would be sent to Turkey and that Iran would notify the International Atomic Energy Agency “within a week”.

Israel was quick to react to the deal, accusing Iran of “manipulating” the Turkish and Brazilian leaders.

‘Last chance’

Last year, Western powers proposed that Iran transfer its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, who would process it into a form usable in a research reactor before returning it.

The deal was an attempt to allow Iran the benefits of nuclear energy without the concern of it having weapons capabilities. But Tehran rejected the idea.

The current talks with Brazil and Turkey, two non-nuclear states on friendly terms with Tehran, attempt to resurrect that plan.

“I guarantee that we will find the opportunity to overcome these problems, God willing,” said Mr Erdogan before the talks.

Both Russia and the US say the talks represent Iran’s last chance to avoid harsher sanctions.

Mr Lula arrived earlier and held talks first with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and then with spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

After the meetings, Mr Lula said the level of hope of reaching an agreement “has increased”.

The BBC’s Iran correspondent Jon Leyne, reporting from London, says the country has given mixed messages about a fuel-swap deal.

He says officials have suggested they are still open to the idea, but have then imposed conditions that the West would not accept.

Iran has been mounting a big diplomatic effort to prevent new UN sanctions; the foreign minister has travelled to all 15 members of the security council.

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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in News


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