UN's nuclear watchdog seeks clarification to Iran's nuclear deal response

Fri 30 October 2009 10:22 GMT | 10:22 Local Time

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The International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, has acknowledged receipt of Iran's initial response to its plan for Tehran to enrich nuclear fuel abroad, but says that it is still in discussions with the Iranian government and other parties involved.

"IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has received an initial response from the Iranian authorities to his proposal to use Iran's low-enriched uranium for manufacturing fuel for the continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor, which is devoted mainly to producing radioisotopes for medical purposes," the IAEA said in a press release on Thursday.

"The director general is engaged in consultations with the government of Iran as well as all relevant parties, with the hope that agreement on his proposal can be reached soon."

Under the deal proposed by el-Baradei, Iran would send a single shipment of up to 75 percent of its low enriched uranium to Russia for further processing. Russia would then send the material to France for conversion into fuel rods.

The details of Iran's response to the IAEA are not known. Iranian media reported earlier that Tehran did not want to ship out all of its uranium in one go.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, held talks at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 29 October. He told Reuters that the talks were were strictly technical, and said nothing about the content of Tehran's response to the IAEA.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers this a technical meeting, merely a technical meeting between Iran and the IAEA," Soltanieh said.

"And we expect that our technical and economic concerns will be taken into consideration when dealing with the modality of the supply of nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor."

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Thursday that Washington is still waiting for clarification and a formal response to the nuclear deal from Iran.

"We’re waiting for a clarification. We – for our part, we remain united with our Russian and French partners in support of the IAEA draft agreement. We think it’s a good agreement, and it’s a very balanced agreement that represents a confidence-building step for all parties. It satisfies a legitimate humanitarian need from Iran and creates an opportunity for all of us for further progress."

"I think it’s also fair to say that we need to have a formal response from Iran," Kelly said. "At this point, we’ve been given some details of it, but we’re still talking to the Iranians about it."

Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian programme.


Reuters  US State Department




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