Iran nuclear fuel swap deal: What it involves, and how it will affect US push for sanctions
The Iran nuclear fuel swap deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil, was cast by many as a confidence-building measure. But Iran would still continue enriching uranium, in defiance of the UN Security Council.
Tehran has agreed to ship the bulk of its enriched uranium to Turkey, in an Iran nuclear fuel swap brokered by Brazil and Turkey that is certain to complicate American efforts to impose new United Nations sanctions on Iran.Skip to next paragraph
Under the deal, Iran would ship 1,200 kg (2,640 lbs) of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey, where it would be held. In exchange, it would be entitled to 120 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent for its medical reactor, likely to be provided by France and Russia.
Iran said the deal was proof that Tehran does not want nuclear weapons, because it would deprive the Islamic Republic of the immediate ability to enrich its stockpile of uranium further and build a nuclear weapon. While Western countries did not embrace the deal immediately, most analysts cast it as a confidence-building measure.
“What it really says is the Iranians want to deflect the sanctions … and it’s a way of telling the international community that they are not on a crash course to get nuclear weapons,” says Shahram Chubin, a Geneva-based Iran specialist with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
'No grounds for sanctions' – Turkey
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey said the deal would “open a constructive road.” He said that there is now “no ground left for more sanctions or pressure.”
They have been pushing for months for a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. Washington and Moscow portrayed the visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Tehran over the weekend as a “last chance” to avoid sanctions.
Germany was quick to point out that the deal did not address Security Council demands that Iran stop enrichment, or unresolved questions about possible nuclear weapons efforts. Israel said Brazil and Turkey – whose leaders brokered the deal after months of high-level diplomacy – had been “manipulated” by Iran.
Mr. Chubin, author of the book Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, said that even though Iran will continue to enrich uranium under the deal, it buys time for a more complete resolution.
“They are continuing enrichment – and that defies the Security Council still – but what they are doing as a confidence-building measure is getting rid of some of that pile of fissile material they have,” says Mr. Chubin, author of the book Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions. “So in a sense it delays the accumulation of their fissile stockpile that could be used for a weapon.”
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on state-run PressTV that that was Iran's view.
“In fact this shows the world [Iran] is not after nuclear weapons, and is after peaceful nuclear science,” he said. “Such an interaction must replace a confrontational approach.”
US officials wanted more enriched uranium shipped
Prior to the talks, top American officials predicted that Brazil and Turkey would fail to broker a deal that was first put to Iran in October.