Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iran reaffirms nuclear swap terms US rejected

The document, seen by the Associated Press yesterday, says Tehran is ready to hand over the bulk of its stockpile, as called for under a deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency and endorsed by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany. But Iran adds that it must simultaneously receive fuel rods for its research reactor in return, and that such an exchange must take place on Iranian territory. The Iranian offer was sure to be rejected by the six powers, which have waited for nearly six months for such an official answer. The United States and others fear Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward making nuclear weapons, while Tehran says it is simply to provide more power for its growing population. The United Nations has slapped sanctions on Iran for its defiance on nuclear issues. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the chief Iranian delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the AP that the letter, to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, was "formally reflecting’’ his country’s position, which has been expressed to the IAEA and to the news media in various forms. The United States and its allies have previously said there can be no significant deviation from the original deal, which would commit Iran to shipping out its nuclear material first and then waiting up to a year for it to be turned into fuel for its reactor, which makes medical isotopes. US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington that Iran’s counterproposal was unacceptable. "It doesn’t say anything new,’’ Crowley said. "We’ve heard this before. We think that the arrangement that we put on the table in Geneva is the right one. The Iranian response in essence is, in our view, a red herring.’’ Nor was the British Foreign Office impressed by the new document. "We continue to support the original deal,’’ the Foreign Office said a statement. "Iran has continually failed to respond fully to that proposal.’’ "It is clearly for the interested parties to respond but it is hard to see how this latest ‘offer’ properly addresses these issues,’’ said the statement. The statement was issued after Amano met in London with British officials, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband. The letter to Amano, dated Feb. 18, says Iran is "still seeking to purchase the required fuel in cash.’’ But it was unclear how Iran would do that, because there are no stockpiles of fuel specifically made for its reactor. Iran is ready to exchange its low-enriched uranium for the fuel rods "simultaneously in one package or several packages in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran,’’ the letter says. World powers insist that Iran ship out most of its enriched uranium first, then wait for the fuel rods, because that would delay Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon by leaving it with too little material for a warhead. Iran continues to enrich in defiance of the UN Security Council, saying it has a right to do that to make nuclear fuel.



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