Iran plans to hold talks over uranium exchange deal


Tehran: Iran plans to hold talks with United Nations Security Council member states over a planned uranium exchange deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday.

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“We plan to hold direct talks with the 14 member states of the UN Security Council and indirect talks with the other member state,” Mottaki told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

The other member state is the US with which Iran has no diplomatic ties for over three decades.

The talks are supposed to be held by Iranian diplomats in the relevant countries, Mottaki said.

According to a plan brokered in October by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s nuclear watchdog, Iran’s low-enriched uranium was to be exported to Russia for further enrichment and then to France for processing into fuel for a Tehran

medical reactor.

At the time, Tehran said it was prepared either to buy the more highly-enriched uranium outright or exchange its own for more highly enriched uranium if the swap took place on Iranian soil.

The world powers and the Vienna-based IAEA refused to have the handover take place in Iran.

Because of the differences blocking the deal, Iran in February started the process to produce the 20-percent-enriched uranium itself but still, reportedly for economic reasons, would prefer the exchange deal and to obtain the fuel for the medical reactor from abroad.

Although the uranium exchange deal would not settle the more than seven-year long dispute between Iran and Western countries over its enrichment programme, it is still regarded by observers as a first step.

Iran insists it has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear development as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and an IAEA member and rejects Western charges that it has been working on a secret programme to make an atomic bomb.

However, its lack of transparency regarding its nuclear programme and refusal to suspend uranium enrichment have led to several UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on the Islamic state.