Tehran says ready to consider nuclear fuel swap
MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - Iran is willing to consider a recent Western proposal that it could obtain nuclear fuel from outside sources rather than produce it itself, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday, according to the official IRNA news agency.
"We are ready to examine proposals by the other side about the fuel swap," Mottaki said.
Under the plan, Iran was to ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for further enrichment and processing into fuel for power plants. Iran would not thereby be able to enrich uranium to make weapons.
The United States and other Western powers have demanded that Iran halt uranium enrichment, fearing it seeks to build nuclear weapons. Tehran insists that it needs nuclear technology only to generate electricity.
Iran earlier said it could consider a simultaneous swap of its nuclear fuel for other uranium, but that the exchange would have to take place on its own territory.
The U.S. and its allies have meanwhile stepped up calls for more sanctions against Iran.
Iran, which is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity, while Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program.
The IAEA in November censured Iran for withholding information on its nuclear program. It also urged Iran to freeze construction of its newly revealed uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom.
In response, Iran's parliament demanded that the government reduce cooperation with the IAEA following the resolution.
President Mahmound Ahmadinejad has set a goal of producing about 250-300 metric tons of nuclear fuel annually.
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