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US answer to Iran nuclear swap: Overnight deal on sanctions

A day after Turkey and Brazil announced an Iran nuclear fuel swap, the US says it has secured the support of all five permanent UN Security Council members – including Russia and China – for Iran sanctions.

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In addition, he noted that President Obama had encouraged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in face-to-face meetings in December and April, to convince Iran to accept an original US-backed proposal put forward in October. The nuclear fuel swap deal signed in Tehran on Monday, which calls for Iran to send more than half of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey, is almost identical to that deal.

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“What they wanted us to do was give the confidence to Iran to do the swap. We have done our duty,” said Davutoglu, calling the deal an important step for regional and global peace. “We were told that if Iran gives 1,200 kg without conditions, then the required atmosphere of trust would be created [to avoid sanctions]. So if we do all these things, and they still talk about sanctions ... [it] will damage the psychological trust that has been created.”

Davutoglu said that the deal also required "sacrifices" from Iran, which had demanded as late as last week that it be allowed to carry out the swap on Iranian soil, and in batches rather than all at once, and that it receive the higher enriched fuel in a simultaneous trade.

US: Iran still defying five Security Council resolutions

In Washington on Monday, officials had been quick to point out that due to Iran's continuing uranium enrichment, 1,200 kg represents roughly 55 percent of Iran's total declared LEU stockpile, not the 70 percent it represented in October. In addition, some were dismayed that the confidence-building measure, designed to buy time for more complete negotiations over UN Security Council concerns about Iran's nuclear program, had taken the spotlight off those concerns.

"Iran remains in defiance of five UN Security Council resolutions, including its unwillingness to suspend enrichment operations," US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley had said on Monday. “Our efforts for sanctions at the UN will continue.”

However, the US draft for a fourth round of sanctions will face a harder battle now that Brazil and Turkey – both rotating Security Council members – have revived a diplomatic option.

Before news broke of the new sanctions draft, Davutoglu said that he was going to speak to foreign ministers from all non-permanent members of the UNSC, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to explain the deal to all permanent members.

China – the permanent Security Council member which had most opposed sanctions on Iran, a key trading partner – yesterday “expressed its welcome and appreciation for the diplomatic efforts” to find an “appropriate solution.” But Clinton stated that China had nevertheless signed up to the new sanctions draft – and presumably would not veto a vote.