Tehran details Iran nuclear deal amid debate over UN sanctions
Tehran officially informed the IAEA today that it was ready to ship 1,200 kg of enriched uranium to Turkey. Turkey and Brazil are lobbying hard to save the deal from being ruined by UN sanctions.
Meeting the first deadline of a key nuclear fuel deal, Iran on Monday officially informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was ready to ship to Turkey more than half of its current stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU), in exchange for nuclear fuel to power its small medical research reactor.Skip to next paragraph
Precisely one week after those two countries clinched a deal similar to a US-backed one put to Iran in October, the Islamic republic now awaits a “positive response” from the so-called Vienna group – the US, Russia, France, and the IAEA – to "pave the way to commence negotiation" on the logistics of the deal.
Tehran says it is ready to export 1,200 kg of its homemade LEU in a month, which would leave too little inside Iran to immediately enrich enough for a nuclear weapon.
“A possible agreement with the Vienna group … will provide a peaceful and constructive solution for the whole world," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Monday during a visit to Istanbul.
But Iran's letter comes amid an intensifying debate about the best way to address international concerns over Iran's nuclear program. Turkey and Brazil, which successfully revived a deal the US had originally backed, firmly maintain that the best course is to use the the fuel swap agreement to get Tehran back to the negotiating table where a fuller solution can be worked out.
The US, suspecting Iran's nuclear energy program to be a guise for developing nuclear weapons, has ratcheted up pressure for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions on Iran – a step that senior Iranian officials say could unravel the entire nuclear deal.
“Iran accepted the conditions in order to create an atmosphere based on trust and cooperation,” said Mr. Mehmanparast.
Khamenei has likely signed off on Iran nuclear deal – analyst
Under the nuclear fuel swap deal, Iran’s 3.5 percent enriched uranium would be stored in Turkey under IAEA seal, and then traded within a year for 20 percent enriched fuel rods made abroad for a reactor that makes isotopes for medical purposes.
Analysts say that the deal, negotiated in Tehran with sign-off by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who has declared repeatedly that Iran would not step back “one iota” from its nuclear rights – almost certainly has the backing of Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
“I don’t see this as merely an Ahmadinejad move,” says Farideh Farhi, an Iran specialist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “I think there is no way you could have gotten the kind of reaction you get now in Iran – like 238 members of the parliament writing a letter in support – unless there is a definite signal from the highest office.”
Iran demands 'inalienable rights' under NPT
The letter to the IAEA restates that Iran remains “committed to its obligations” under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and notes its “wide-ranging cooperation with the IAEA.”