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Pressure mounts on Tehran to respond to nuclear deal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-02

Several world leaders have joined International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei (photo) in urging Iran to stop delaying its response to a proposed nuclear enrichment deal.

AFP- Iran said on Monday that it wants a review of a UN-brokered nuclear fuel deal, as Britain and Russia urged it to accept the offer and France warned Tehran that "delaying tactics" will not be tolerated.
   
Pressure on the Islamic republic to accept the deal mounted as Iran indicated that it prefers to buy nuclear fuel supplies directly rather than sending its own uranium abroad for further enrichment.
   
Tehran's latest stance on the high-profile proposal came as its close ally Moscow and London urged Iran to accept the offer, which aims to apply the brakes on Iran's galloping nuclear programme.
   
"We are ready to buy the fuel from any supplier under the full surveillance of the IAEA, as we bought from Argentina about 20 years ago with the cooperation of the IAEA," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told AFP in Vienna.
   
Soltanieh did not clarify whether Iran was rejecting the present UN draft plan, which proposes to ship Tehran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further processing and conversion into fuel.
   
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, visiting Malaysia on Monday, called for a review of the deal.
   
"We have considered this proposal, we have some technical and economic considerations on that," he told reporters.
   


"Two days ago we passed our views and observations to the IAEA, so it is very much possible to establish a technical commission to review and reconsider all these issues."
   
Mottaki added that Iran will "continue enrichment" of uranium for nuclear power stations requiring fuel.
   
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the six world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear fuel programme will not tolerate delaying tactics by Tehran.
   
"We are waiting for Iran to formally accept the proposition made by the IAEA. If the Iranian response is to stall, as it seems to be, we will not accept this," he told reporters in Paris.
   
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday urged Iran to give its response.
   
"I urge Iran to be as forthcoming as possible in responding soon to my recent proposal," he said at the United Nations.
   
World powers are backing the draft as they fear Tehran could enrich its stock of LEU to very high levels under the pretext of making fuel for a Tehran reactor, and use it to produce atomic weapons.
   
Tehran denies that it wants to manufacture a nuclear bomb.
   
Soltanieh insisted Tehran prefers to buy nuclear fuel but said its key aim is to obtain guaranteed supplies. Iran is ready for another meeting in Vienna to discuss the technical details, he said.
   
"We expect that like any other country, we will be able to buy and pay for it without any other condition, under the IAEA full scope safeguards of course," he said.
   
"The core issue is the assurance and guarantee of the supply of the fuel, bearing in mind the past confidence deficits where we did not receive fuel for the same reactor which we had paid for."
   
Iran has been hesitating to sign the UN-drafted deal amid opposition from some leaders who suspect the US-backed deal will ultimately lead to the suspension of Tehran's uranium enrichment work.
   
Enrichment is the most controversial aspect of Iran's nuclear project as the material can be used as fuel for civilian reactors and also to make the core of an atomic bomb.
   
Mottaki said Iran still has three options to obtain the fuel it needs -- buying directly from other countries, enriching LEU further on its own, or having the fuel processed by another country.
   
Britain and Russia demanded on Monday that Iran give a prompt response to the UN-drafted deal, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on a visit to Moscow.
   
"We both want to see a prompt response from the Iranian regime in respect to the Tehran research reactor proposal," he said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
   
Lavrov said Moscow, which is closer to Tehran than any other world power, is counting on Tehran to approve the deal which was thrashed out in Vienna with representatives of Iran, Russia, France and the United States.
   
"This meeting ended with an agreement... which we are counting on all the participants, without exceptions, to approve, including Iran," Lavrov said.
   
The joint stance of London and Moscow comes as senior US officials increase the pressure on Iran to sign the UN-brokered proposal.
   
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday urged Tehran to accept the offer, saying that world powers' patience has limits.

Date created : 2009-11-02

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