West wary as Iran president agrees nuclear deal terms

West wary as Iran president agrees nuclear deal terms
# 03 February 2010 19:02 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The US and key allies have called on Iran to match its words with actions after it appeared to accept a deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, APA reports quoting BBC.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would have "no problem" if most of its stock was held for several months before being returned as fuel rods.
The US said that if this was a new offer, it was "prepared to listen".
Germany’s foreign minister said "only actions" counted and his French counterpart said he was "perplexed".
Soon after the Iranian statement, state TV announced the successful launch of a satellite rocket carrying an "experimental capsule".
The West is concerned about Iran’s growing missile technology and possible links to its nuclear programme.
Iran insists its nuclear development and rocket programme are entirely peaceful.
A deal struck in October between Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the so-called P5+1 - the US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany - envisaged Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France where it would be processed into fuel for a research reactor.
But last month, diplomats said Iran had told the IAEA that it did not accept the terms of the deal and had instead demanded a simultaneous exchange on its territory.
Then, in a state TV interview on Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad dismissed the concerns of his "colleagues" that the West would retain the uranium.
"We have no problem sending our enriched uranium abroad," he said.
"We say, ’We will give you our 3.5% enriched uranium,’ and will get the fuel. It may take four to five months until we get the fuel."
BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne, reporting from London, says there will still be scepticism about whether President Ahmadinejad’s offer is anything more than a delaying tactic designed to fend off fresh sanctions.
’A bit pessimistic’
A White House official told the BBC: "If Mr Ahmadinejad’s comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA."
The official added: "If Iran has something new to say, we are prepared to listen."
The British Foreign Office also said that it "looked forward" to Tehran notifying the IAEA.
A spokesman at the IAEA in Vienna told AFP news agency it had nothing to add to its earlier statements.
Moscow gave a guarded response to the Iranian offer, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying it would welcome Iran’s return to the scheme
But the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, suggested the Iranians were stalling and said he was "perplexed and even a bit pessimistic" about Tehran’s offer.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that Iran had to be "measured by its actions, not by what it says" and that it was up to Iran to "show an end to its refusal to negotiate".
Mr Ahmadinejad also said there were negotiations about a possible prisoner swap for several Iranians jailed in the US for the three American hikers currently being held in Iran.
"There are some talks under way to have an exchange, if it is possible," he said. "We are hopeful that all prisoners will be released."
Mr Ahmadinejad did not go into detail, but in December Tehran released a list of 11 Iranians it says are being held in US prisons, including a nuclear scientist who disappeared in Saudi Arabia and a former defence ministry official who vanished in Turkey.
The US has denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.