Iran Offers to Ship Uranium, Complicating Sanctions Talks

By MICHAEL SLACKMAN, The New York Times

CAIRO — Iran announced an agreement on Monday to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a deal that could offer a short-term solution to its ongoing nuclear conflict with the West, or prove to be a tactic aimed at derailing efforts to bring new sanctions against Tehran.

The deal, negotiated by Turkey and Brazil, calls for Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms, or 2,640 pounds, of low enriched uranium to Turkey where it would be stored. In exchange, after one year, Iran would have the right to receive 120 kilograms of material enriched to 20 percent from Russia and France.

The terms mirror a deal with the West last October which fell apart when Iran backtracked.

This time, however, those same terms may be unacceptable to Washington and its partners because Iran has since increased its supply of nuclear fuel, experts said.

Iranian officials, however, applauded their success as a breakthrough. They said on state television that the next step would be to agree to terms for the exchange with the so-called Vienna Group — Iran’s description of an informal grouping comprising the United States, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watch-dog based in Vienna.

The Iranian officials said they would send a formal letter confirming the deal to the I.A.E.A. within a week.

“This shows that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons and rather peaceful nuclear technology,” said Ramin Mehmanparast, the Foreign Ministry spokesman in a televised press conference on Monday. “Such interactions must replace a confrontational approach.”

Diplomats in Vienna said the I.A.E.A. had not been formally notified about the reported deal. But, the fact that Tehran had now agreed to a swap outside its own territory was potentially significant.

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/world/middleeast/18iran.html

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