Iran says conditions right for nuclear fuel deal
Tehran, May 15, 2010
Iran talked up chances of a deal on a nuclear fuel swap on Saturday, the day after UN Security Council power Russia said the likelihood of Brazil brokering a deal were 30 per cent at best.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva planned to press Iran's leaders in a weekend visit to Tehran to revive the stalled UN-backed proposal whereby Iran would send low-enriched uranium abroad and get back higher grade uranium.
The deal is aimed at allaying the West's concerns over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"Concerning the negotiations, I believe the conditions are conducive to reach a serious agreement over the swap deal," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the official Irna news agency.
The deal broke down in October after Iran insisted on doing the swap only on its territory.
Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have offered to mediate to persuade Iran to revisit the offer. World powers are in talks to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran.
Washington has accused Tehran of trying to buy time by accepting the mediation offer.
Lula is due in Iran on May 16 but Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled his visit, scheduled for the same day.
Mehmanparast said no date had been set for Erdogan's visit.
"It would have been better for Erdogan if he could have been physically in Tehran but in the era of communications, there are other ways to stay in touch," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the semi-official Ilna news agency.
Western and Russian authorities have said Lula's trip was probably the last chance to find a resolution to the impasse.
The US and its European allies say Iran's nuclear programme is a front to develop nuclear bombs. Iran says its nuclear work is aimed at generating power. – Reuters