Iran nuclear talks: What happened to the nuclear fuel-swap deal?
Movement on a fuel-swap deal with Iran stalled after two days of nuclear talks in Istanbul ended in stalemate.
In Pictures Nuclear Weapons
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But the two days of talks ended in stalemate. Negotiators from the so-called P5+1 nations – US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – could not move beyond Iranian preconditions that the group recognize Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium and agree to drop sanctions before substantive talks could begin.
So what happened to the nuclear fuel-swap deal?
And how did the P5+1 revise the deal first put to Iran – and rejected by it – in October 2009? In that proposal, Iran would have exported the bulk of its homemade low-enriched uranium (LEU) for further refinement in Russia, then made into fuel rods in France, for a small research reactor in Tehran.
The short answer is that the deal was barely discussed. But the “upgraded” version of the deal, which was laid out for the Iranians at the Istanbul talks, requires that Iran export a “greatly increased quantity,” according to Western diplomats engaged in the talks.
The long answer depends on whom you ask.
After the talks ended Saturday, Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili made no mention of the fuel-swap proposal in lengthy comments to journalists until asked specifically about it.
Speaking in the future tense, Mr. Jalili said a fuel deal “could be one of the most important areas for cooperation,” and that during talks in Istanbul on this point “we very openly put forward what we want.”
After the Istanbul sessions ended without progress, and while most press coverage cited Iran’s preconditions for the breakdown, Jalili’s deputy on Iran’s Supreme National Security Council talked further on the fuel swap.
A story by Iran’s state-run PressTV, titled “Iran ready to talk fuel swap,” quotes Ali Baqeri as saying that Iran received the P5+1 proposal, but “we stressed that Iran does not need fuel swap and what prompts Iran to negotiate on the issue is cooperation and not necessity.”