World Bulletin / News Desk
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday he had a "very good meeting" with the head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog on a plan to swap Iran's low-enriched uranium for higher-grade nuclear fuel.
He also said that a final deal on sending some Iranian uranium abroad for enrichment is close.
"I had a very good meeting today with Mr. (Yukiya) Amano, Director-General of the IAEA. We discussed and exchanged views on a wide range of issues -- views about the proposal that is on the table," Mottaki told a news conference at an annual security conference in Munich.
"I tried to explain the views of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the Director-General," Mottaki said, referring to their discussion on the plan under which the nuclear fuel received in exchange for Iran's low-enriched uranium would be used in a Tehran reactor making medical isotopes.
But he repeated Iran's insistence on determining the amount of fuel to be exchanged and said it might be less than the 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) which world powers have asked it to part with in one go, according to Reuters.
Responses of German, US
But The United States and Germany said on Saturday they saw no sign Tehran would make concessions.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he did not believe agreement was near on a proposal to exchange Iran's low-enriched uranium for higher-grade fuel for use in a Tehran reactor making medical isotopes, and suggested it was time for more sanctions on Iran.
An accord on exchanging fuel could mark a major breakthrough in the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.
Mottaki said on Friday he saw good prospects for agreement.
The five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany met on Friday to discuss efforts to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment programme, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes, but China made clear it was too soon to discuss further sanctions.
A Chinese diplomat pointed to comments from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who -- in contrast to Mottaki -- said on Tuesday Iran would be ready to send low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad before getting reactor fuel back.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Iran had so far failed to dispel Western scepticism that it was prepared to make meaningful concessions over its nuclear programme.
"Our hand is still reaching out towards them. But so far it's reaching out into nothingness," he said at an annual security conference in Munich. "And I've seen nothing since yesterday that makes me want to change that view."
Iran has not shut the door on a U.N.-brokered deal, and diplomacy remains the best way to resolve this issue, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Friday.
"We believe Iran has not totally shut the door on the IAEA proposal on nuclear fuel supply," he told a security conference in Germany.
Asked about China's opposition so far to additional sanctions, Gates said: "I think there will still be an effort to engage with China and I would say I personally don't believe that the door is closed."
German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor Zu Guttenberg said it was time for the United Nations Security Council "to live up to its international responsibility, put a stop to this and take the appropriate measures."
Western powers see the potential fuel swap as a means to ensure Tehran does not further enrich its uranium for potential use in a nuclear weapon.
"In this connection you are after some kind of political fraud and intend to take away the enriched uranium material from the Iranians," parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
In exchange, Iran would receive uranium of a higher grade which it could use to fuel a Tehran research reactor producing medical isotopes.
"It is very common that in business, the buyer talks and offers about the quantity, and the seller only offers the price," Mottaki told reporters at the Munich Security Conference.
In the proposed swap, he said, "we determine the quantity on the basis of our needs and we would inform the parties about our requirements. Maybe it is less than this quantity you have already mentioned (1,200 kg) or (that is) a little more than the quantity we may need for our reactor."
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said there were "hints of more flexibility" in the Iranian position. "But that needs to be put on paper before it can be properly assessed."
A European Union official said: "We are encouraged by the signals he (Mottaki) is sending, but the thing we are looking for is action in terms of what they are sending to the IAEA."Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2010, 17:33