Iran nuclear fuel swap: What's happening now
Tehran says it will hold talks with Turkey and Brazil over the Iran nuclear fuel swap, despite announcing yesterday a two-month delay in broader negotiations meant to 'punish' the West.
Angered by the failure of an Iran nuclear fuel swap to avert fresh sanctions, Tehran has declared a two-month freeze on any broader nuclear talks. The move puts Turkey – which has been trying to break the impasse over Iran's nuclear program – on the back foot just six weeks after it brokered the deal, along with Brazil.Skip to next paragraph
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“We are postponing the talks because of the bad behavior and the adoption of the new resolution in the (UN) Security Council,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in Tehran yesterday. “This is a penalty, so that that they are disciplined to learn the way of talking to other nations.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad added that Turkey and Brazil would side with Iran in any talks with the US, Russia, and France, and that the fuel swap deal “is a way for engagement and this is better than confrontation.”
That point was clarified today by Iran’s foreign minister, who stated that the delay would not apply to discussions with Turkey and Brazil.
Yet Iran’s position was news to Turkey, whose senior officials have been in daily contact with their Brazilian counterparts to find a diplomatic way out of Iran’s nuclear impasse. Both nations oppose sanctions, and cast the only negative votes in the latest UNSC vote on Iran.
“We’re still trying to have some kind of deal, but we’re not sure actually what to do next [and] the statement by Ahmadinejad, of course, has thrown some water [on it]," said a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official who briefed journalists on background in Istanbul today.
“We still have to give [Iran] the benefit of the doubt. We still are interested in a diplomatic solution, despite the fact that there are sanctions there,” said the official. But the “sanctions resolution has given Iran the possibility to wiggle out, and use this as an excuse. If the sanctions resolution was not there, it would have been easier [to apply] much more pressure, from us and from others, to comply.”
Little progress has been made on the nuclear fuel swap deal brokered with much local fanfare by Turkey and Brazil with Iran on May 17, except for a list of “concerns” raised by the US, Russia, and France – all countries that would likely need to play a role in the exchange of 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium for fuel that Tehran needs for an existing research reactor.
“It’s on the table,” the Turkish official said of the nuclear swap deal. “Whether we can move on it is, of course, another thing. Iran has not said it is not on the table – that’s a start.”
Russia: We want to pursue the fuel deal
Despite reservations, Moscow on Tuesday also said it wanted to pursue the fuel deal, which mirrored a previous offer put forward last October by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).