Iran calls on Vienna Group to decide on date for fuel swap talks

Iran calls on Vienna Group to decide on date for fuel swap talks
# 17 August 2010 21:42 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Tehran has called on the Vienna Group to agree on the date and venue of technical discussions on a nuclear fuel swap deal between Iran, Brazil and Turkey, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.

"...We are fully ready to deal with details of fuel swap, and talks on the issue can be held without pause as soon as the group declares its readiness," Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted by Iranian information agency ISNA as saying.

Tehran submitted in July a letter to IAEA Director General Yukio Amano, which expressed Iran’s readiness to hold technical discussions on the supply of 20%-enriched fuel to Iran for use in its Tehran scientific research reactor.

Turkey and Brazil are to be included in the negotiation process.

Russia welcomed Tehran’s proposals, but the Western members of the so-called Iran Six group, which also includes Britain, China, France, Germany, and the United States, have yet to provide a clear response.

Turkey, Brazil and Iran signed an agreement on May 17, dubbed the Tehran Declaration, in which Iran committed itself to giving 1,200 kg of its 3.5%-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for 20%-enriched uranium it would receive from Western countries to be used as fuel in the nuclear research reactor near Tehran.

Mehmanparast said the meeting would "strengthen cooperation and trust between the two sides," but should only go ahead if it adhered to the trilateral fuel swap agreement.

On Monday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Tehran was awaiting an official response from the Iran Six on the settlement of Iran’s nuclear program. Salehi said the negotiations would create an air of trust between the parties involved.

Western powers suspect Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons under the guise of its nuclear program, which Tehran says is aimed at the peaceful generation of civilian energy.

Senior diplomats from the Iran Six met Iranian officials in Geneva last October to discuss an agreement on a nuclear fuel swap, but the agreement eventually fell through.

The draft agreement proposed by former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei would have seen Iran send out about 80% of its known 1.5 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would have been enriched, and to France to convert it into fuel plates for the research reactor in Tehran.

International pressure on Iran increased in early February when Tehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20% in lieu of an agreement on an exchange that would provide it with fuel for a research reactor.

The UN Security Council passed on June 9 a resolution imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.