Updated in: 01 February 2011 - 01:39
"We were not interested in the inauguration of a new plant for 20% (enriched) fuel...."
News ID: 1218
Publish Date: 25 September 2010 - 18:27


TEHRAN, Sept. 25, 2010 - Iran will mull over suspension of its program for producing 20%-enriched nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran if potential suppliers provide the country with its nuclear fuel needs, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced.

"Whenever we feel assured and the fuel will be delivered to us we can study its (the enrichment of nuclear fuel) stop," Farsnews quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in a press conference in New York on Friday.

Ahmadinejad criticized certain countries for politicizing the issue of the supply of nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor, and said Iran did not aim to enrich fuel to the purity level of 20% from the very beginning but the world powers refrained to comply with their NPT undertaking and made the country establish a plant to this end.

"We were not interested in the inauguration of a new plant for 20% (enriched) fuel," he said, adding, "Based on the rules they should have provided us (with the fuel) but they turned it into a political issue."

After Iran announced to the IAEA last year that it had run out of nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran, the Agency proposed a deal according to which Iran would send 3.5%-enriched uranium and receive 20%-enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

The proposal was first introduced on October 1, when Iranian representatives and diplomats from the Group 5+1 held high-level talks in Geneva.

But France and the United States, as potentials suppliers, stalled the talks soon after the start. They offered a deal which would keep Tehran waiting for months before it could obtain the fuel, a luxury of time that Iran could not afford as it is about to run out of 20-percent-enriched uranium.

The Iranian parliament rejected the deal after technical studies showed that it would only take two to three months for any country to further enrich the nuclear stockpile and turn it into metal nuclear rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, while suppliers had announced that they would not return fuel to Iran any less than seven months.

Iran then put forward its own proposal that envisaged a two-staged exchange. According to Tehran's offer, the IAEA would safeguard nearly one third of Iran's uranium stockpile inside the Iranian territory for the time that it took to find a supplier. The western countries opposed Tehran's proposal.

After West's opposition to Iran's proposal, Iranian, Brazilian and Turkish officials on May 17 signed an agreement named the 'Tehran Declaration' which presented a solution to the longstanding standoff between Iran and potential suppliers of nuclear fuel. According to the agreement, Iran would send some 1200 kg of its 3.5% enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for a total 120 kg of 20% enriched fuel.

But again the western countries showed a negative and surprising reaction to the Tehran Declaration and sponsored a sanctions resolution against Iran at the UN Security Council instead of taking the opportunity presented by the agreement.

Russia, France, and the US, in three separate letters, instead of giving a definite response to the Tehran Declaration, raised some questions about the deal, and the US took a draft sanctions resolution against Iran to the UN Security Council, which was later approved by the Council.

Iran in a letter responded to the questions raised by the Vienna Group on the Tehran Declaration and voiced its preparedness to hold talks.

In a later move, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano proposed a plan to resume talks between the two sides, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced Tehran's agreement with Amano's proposal.

"Iran is ready to take part in the meeting brokered by Amano," Mottaki said.

He referred to Iran's letter to Amano in which the country had declared its readiness for talks with the Vienna Group and said, "Mr. Amano has forwarded the letter to other members of the group and it seems that he is arranging for holding the meeting," according to Farsnews. 

Mottaki said that the country wants to determine and approve details of fuel swap through talks with Vienna Group.

Yet, despite all the efforts Iran has made so far to swap or supply fuel from potential suppliers, West has refrained to do so.

* Comment: