VIENNA/LONDON (Hurriyet)–Iran formally notified the U.N. atomic watchdog Monday of its response to a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil.
Iranian, Brazilian and Turkish representatives, as well as officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency, all arrived at 10:30 a.m. for a short 45-minute meeting with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano at his residence in central Vienna.
Coming out of the meeting, the Iranian official confirmed to reporters outside that he had handed over Tehran’s letter.
The IAEA has been waiting for a written response from Iran ever since Tehran signed the deal on May 17 with Brazil and Turkey, both nonpermanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Iran said it agreed to hand over about half of its enriched-uranium stockpile in exchange for fuel in a form that can be used only to run a reactor that produces medical isotopes. The swap would take place in Turkey. Russia and China backed the deal, which Iran said would be supervised by IAEA.
The IAEA itself did not immediately comment on the content of the letter.
Iran said the fuel-exchange agreement would make it unnecessary for the U.N. Security Council to consider a fourth round of sanctions over the nuclear program proposed by the U.S. Western governments’ reaction has been dismissive of the deal, which they have said fails to address international concerns.
Washington has pressed ahead with circulating a new sanctions resolution.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on May 18 that, with cooperation from Russia and China, the U.S. had created “a strong draft” of a sanctions resolution.
Iran criticizes Russia
Ahmadinejad criticized Russia on Sunday for supporting further U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the ISNA news agency reported.
“If I was in the place of Russian officials, I would adopt a more careful stance,” ISNA quoted him as saying after a cabinet meeting. The United States this week succeeded in forging a compromise with the other four permanent members of the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran for its defiance in refusing to halt uranium enrichment.
Washington said that both Russia and China had backed a “tough” draft-U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran. “We had expected that a friendly neighboring state would defend the Tehran Declaration,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying of Russia on Sunday.
The fourth round of sanctions would expand an existing arms embargo, measures against Iran’s banking sector and ban it from mining uranium and developing ballistic missiles overseas, according to a U.S. official in New York. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday gave a cautious welcome to the Tehran accord. “This is the politics of a diplomatic solution to the Iran problem,” he said. “We need to have consultations with all the parties, including Iran, and then determine what to do next.”
Russia is building Iran’s first nuclear power plant in the city of Bushehr, where the facility is expected to go online by August regardless of any new U.N. sanctions against Tehran, a top Russian atomic official said on Thursday.
The U.S. and its allies say Iran is seeking to develop atomic weapons under the cover of a nuclear-energy program. Iran rejects the claim and says the work is solely civilian.
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said he objects to the proposed sanctions. “We feel for the people, for the workers and for the teachers,” Mousavi, a former prime minister who challenged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June election, was cited as saying Monday by the opposition website Rahesabz.
“The Green Movement does not back the weakening of the nation and so it cannot back sanctions,” he said, referring to the alliance that grew out of protests over Ahmadinejad’s re-election.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said the fuel- swap agreement is a sign that pressure on Iran is mounting. Chances for Middle East peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be hurt should Iran become a nuclear power, Meridor told reporters in Jerusalem Monday.