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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. rejects Iran's nuclear ultimatum

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 4 (RIA Novosti) - Washington has dismissed Iran's nuclear fuel demand and said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal already offered to Tehran was sufficient.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Saturday urged the West to accept a uranium swap deal within a month, or else it would produce its own nuclear fuel.

"We set a time limit [for the West] to make a decision about supplying the fuel required by the Tehran research reactor," Mottaki said. "We will not give more time."

"The IAEA has a balanced proposal on the table that would fulfill Iran's own request for fuel, and has the backing of the international community," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer 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.

Tehran, however, has not accepted the proposal, calling for "concrete guarantees" for the return of its fuel.

"If getting access to fuel is Iran's objective, then there is absolutely no reason why the existing proposal, which Iran accepted in principle at Geneva, is insufficient," Hammer said.

"The Iranian government is standing in its own way."

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.

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