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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's nuclear fuel swap aimed at dividing UN - Russian expert

RIA Novosti

18:0317/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian expert has said the recent nuclear fuel swap agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey is a diplomatic maneuver, aimed at causing rifts in the UN Security Council.

The Iranian, Brazilian, and Turkish foreign ministers signed an agreement on Monday on the exchange of low-enriched uranium to fuel Tehran's scientific research reactor.

Iran, which has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, has agreed to swap in Turkey most of its 3.5%-enriched uranium for 20%-enriched fuel for use in its Tehran scientific research reactor.

"This is a diplomatic maneuver, aimed at dividing the UN Security Council ... and creating a pretext for hash measures not to be set against Iran," said Alexei Arbatov, of the Moscow Institute for World Economy and International Relations.

The United States and other Western countries suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy program and are seeking new sanctions following Iran's move to enrich uranium to 20%.

The Iran Six (France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China) began on April 19 discussing the text of a draft resolution to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The head of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergei Karaganov, in the interview with RIA Novosti called the nuclear fuel swap a "diplomatic success for Iran."

"This means the international community, the Iran Six and the United States lose the opportunity to impose sanctions," he said.

The monopoly of nuclear powers "is bursting at the seams," Karaganov said, adding that "Russia has to accept this situation as it is pointless to support meaningless sanctions."

Another Russian expert said the agreement between Iran and Turkey does not derail the UN's efforts to impose sanctions on Iran.

"Iran will be asked to fully refrain from uranium enrichment or substantially limit it," said director of disarmament and conflict resolution at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Alexander Pikayev.

The German government said on Monday the deal between Iran and the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, on the nuclear program "cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries."

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told AFP that the nuclear fuel swap deal "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran's nuclear program, although it is a "move in the right direction."

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