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Iran wants big changes to draft atom deal with powers: Report

Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 18:22

Tehran: Iran will seek major revisions to a UN-draft nuclear fuel deal, including shipping abroad its low-enriched uranium (LEU) in stages rather than all at once, a pro-government newspaper reported on Thursday.
Without giving a source, the newspaper Javan also said Iran wanted a "simultaneous exchange," receiving higher-enriched uranium to run a Tehran research reactor at the same time as it ships LEU abroad for conversion into fuel for the same purpose.

The conditions were likely non-starters for Western powers which suspect the Islamic Republic is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability. Tehran rejects the charge, saying it is enriching uranium only for electricity.

Under the draft brokered by the UN nuclear watchdog chief in talks last week with Iran and three big powers, Tehran would transfer about 75 percent of its known 1.5 tonnes of LEU in one consignment to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates.

These would be returned to Tehran to power the reactor that produces radio-isotopes for cancer treatment.

The US role in the deal would entail upgrading safety and instrumentation at the plant, Iranian officials said.

But Iran`s proposed amendments were likely to be rebuffed by the powers because they wanted the plan to reduce the stockpile of Iran`s LEU below the threshold needed for conversion into highly-enriched uranium for an atom bomb.

This would buy about a year of time for negotiations on halting enrichment in Iran in exchange for benefits to forge a long-term solution to a standoff over its nuclear ambitions.

The powers will see Iran`s counter-offer as problematic because current UN sanctions ban trade in sensitive nuclear materials, which included enriched uranium, with Tehran.

Iran`s view is that such sanctions are illegal and unjust.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 18:22
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