Iran Sees ‘Readiness’ Over Turkey Nuclear Fuel Swap Deal

Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki

TEHRAN (Agence France-Presse, Hurriyet)—Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was witnessing “positive” feedback from the Vienna group over a proposal to supply Tehran with nuclear fuel, an Iranian television channel reported.

Mottaki said Iran’s response to questions raised by the Vienna group over a proposal brokered by Brazil and Turkey to supply the fuel to Tehran has led to some “readiness” from the members of the group to talk over the issue.

“We can say this process is a positive signal reflecting the political determination of the Vienna group,” he told the Al-Alam Arabic-language channel late on Sunday, referring to the United States, Russia and France, which make up the group.

The Vienna group has raised several questions about the proposal submitted by Iran, Brazil and Turkey for the supply of nuclear fuel to power a Tehran-based research reactor. Iran answered the group’s questions on July 26.

“The director general of IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is seeking to organize a meeting with the Vienna group on the basis of Tehran’s letter for the exchange of fuel for the Tehran reactor,” Mottaki said.

The May 17 proposal by Iran, Turkey and Brazil, known as the Tehran Declaration, stipulates that Iran send 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 20 percent high-enriched uranium to be supplied by Russia and France at a later date.

The world powers led by Washington had previously cold-shouldered the plan and backed a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran on June 9.

The U.N. sanctions have been followed by unilateral punitive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union.

The world powers suspect that Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic program, while Tehran insists its nuclear program has no military aims.

Last week a senior Foreign Ministry source in Ankara said Turkey was offering its help in reaching a solution to Iran’s disputed nuclear program and was seeking close coordination on the matter following a meeting between Turkish, Iranian and Brazilian foreign ministers.

In addition to offering Turkey’s diplomatic assistance, Ambassador Engin Soysal, the deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, told the Ankara-based representatives of the P5+1 countries – the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany – that Iran is willing to talk about all issues related to its Tehran research reactor and the exchange of fuel for the facility.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a trilateral meeting late last month with the foreign ministers of Brazil and Iran concerning the nuclear dispute. The talks adopted a three-way format once Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki expressed an interest in attending them.

Davutoğlu announced after the meeting that Iran would send Monday a second letter to the Vienna Group – Russia, France, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA – addressing concerns about the nuclear-fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil and inked with Iran in May.

One diplomat, speaking with the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Reviow on condition of anonymity last week, said there was no new element in what the Turkish ambassador told the representatives, but added, “It was interesting for us to listen to what Turkey is doing on the nuclear issue.”

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Deborah L. Guido also told Hurriyet that the embassy “appreciated the briefing and the sharing of information” with Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel J. O’Grady, who met with Soysal.

“P5+1 efforts have always been based on a two-track approach: diplomacy and pressure. And both need to be in play to get Iran to change its nuclear policy,” she said. “The United States is committed to avoiding conflict in the region and remains committed to a negotiated solution.”

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