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Iran Hands Over Response On Nuclear Fuel Deal

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 29.10.2009 15:00

Iran has presented its response on a draft nuclear deal to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

The ISNA news agency and Iran's state Al-Alam television quote the Iranian envoy to the UN nuclear agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying Iran had asked for "technical and economic amendments."

Soltanieh said Iran would continue talks about the supply of nuclear fuel to a Tehran research reactor with a positive attitude, Al-Alam added.

The IAEA confirmed in a statement that Iran has given it an "initial response" to the draft nuclear supply deal with big powers and said it hopes an agreement could be reached soon.

Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei "is engaged in consultations with the government of Iran as well as all relevant parties, with the hope that agreement on his proposal can be reached soon."

The statement gave no further details.

Under the deal proposed by the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran would ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for further processing into nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor.

Iranian officials were not immediate available for comment on the report.

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to cooperate on the deal with Russia, France, and the United States, but said world powers also had to fulfill their commitments.

Iranian media reported that the Iran response proposes big changes that could sink the plan, including sending its low-enriched uranium abroad in stages instead of all at once.

The pro-government daily "Javan," in an unsourced report, said Iran wanted phased shipments of low-enriched uranium (LEU) for conversion into fuel for a Tehran research reactor, as well as simultaneous imports of higher-enriched fuel for the same plant.

The conditions were likely nonstarters for Western powers which suspect the Islamic republic covertly seeks nuclear arms capability. Tehran says its program is only for electricity.

Under the draft drawn up by IAEA chief el-Baradei in talks last week with Iran and three big powers, Tehran would transfer about 75 percent of its known 1.5 tons of LEU in one consignment to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates.

These would be returned to Tehran to power the U.S.-built reactor that produces radio-isotopes for cancer treatment.

The U.S. role in the deal would entail upgrading safety and instrumentation at the plant, Iranian officials said.

Western powers were likely to rebuff Tehran's proposed amendments because their priority is to reduce the stockpile of Iranian LEU to ward off the danger that Iran might turn it into the highlyenriched uranium needed for an atom bomb.

with wire service reports


Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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