Iran FM hopeful for nuke fuel deal, no sanctions

Iran`s foreign minister on Tuesday expressed optimism Tehran would soon strike a deal with the international community.

Updated: Apr 27, 2010, 21:18 PM IST

Tehran: Iran`s foreign minister on Tuesday
expressed optimism Tehran would soon strike a deal with the
international community to provide his country with nuclear
fuel - the latest in a new Iranian diplomatic push to stave
off fresh UN sanctions over its controversial nuclear

As part of the push, top Iranian officials have been
courting some non-permanent Security Council members to
pre-empt possible sanctions.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held talks with
Bosnian leaders yesterday after making little progress in
Austria over the weekend. And last week, President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad visited Uganda, another non-permanent member of
the 15-nation Council.

Today, Mottaki held talks with visiting Brazilian
counterpart Celso Amorim.

"We are hopeful to see a fuel exchange go into
operation in the near future," Mottaki said, adding that
Brazil, also a non-permanent member, could play a more
effective decision-making role in the Council.

The US and its allies fear Iran`s nuclear program aims
to produce nuclear weapons, and are pushing for tougher
sanctions in the Security Council over Tehran`s refusal to
halt uranium enrichment - a process that can lead to nuclear
weapon making.

The call for sanctions stepped up after Iran last year
rejected a UN-backed plan that offered nuclear fuel rods to a
Tehran reactor in exchange for Iran`s stock of lower-level
enriched uranium. The swap would have curbed Iran`s capacity
to make a nuclear bomb.

Under the UN proposal, Iran was to send 1,100
kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad, where it would be
further enriched to 20 percent and converted into fuel rods,
which would then be returned to Iran. Sending its low-enriched
uranium abroad would leave Iran with insufficient stocks to
enrich further to weapons-grade level.

Tehran needs the fuel rods to power a research reactor
in the Iranian capital that makes nuclear isotopes needed for
medical purposes. Once converted into rods, uranium can no
longer be used for making weapons.

Iran, which denies any plan for making nuclear arms
and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only,
has made several counteroffers to the West, including one to
swap smaller batches of Iran`s low-enriched uranium.

But the US and its allies say the proposals obviate
the goal of rendering Iran unable to build a nuclear-powered