JERUSALEM - An official Iranian government news agency has announced that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a telephone conversation with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in which the Iranian leader announced the country’s agreement with Brazil’s proposal on nuclear fuel swap for its research reactor in Tehran.
During the conversation on Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad said that he announced his agreement in principle on Brazilian President Lula Da Silva’s proposal and called for continuation of talks on technical issues in Tehran.
President Chavez told Mr. Ahmadinejad that Venezuela supports his stances on international issues.
Earlier last week, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, on a visit to Tehran, had said that he hopes an Iran nuclear fuel swap deal could be revived to end disputes over Iran’s nuclear program.
Meantime, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said on
Tuesday he is still optimistic that a long awaited nuclear fuel swap between
Tehran and the West would eventually take place.
“The grounds that we have observed indicate that this [swap] is possible and show our strong logic,” Mr. Mehman-Parast said in his weekly press conference.
“If the opposite sides are really ready to swap fuel, then we will do the swap,” Mehman-Parast added.
He reiterated Iran’s conditions for nuclear swap - simultaneous swap of certain amounts of enriched uranium inside the Iranian soil - and stated, “We are still ready for swapping fuel. And such an exchange may build some confidence between the two sides.”
After Iran announced to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 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 percent enriched uranium and receive 20 percent-enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the U.N. 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 potential suppliers, stalled the talks soon after the start. They offered a deal which would keep Tehran waiting for months before it can obtain the fuel, a luxury of time that Iran cannot afford as it is about to run out of 20-percent-enriched uranium.
Iran had rejected the proposed 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 in any less than seven months.
Iran put forward its own proposal that envisages a two-staged exchange. According to Tehran’s offer, the IAEA safeguards nearly one third of Iran’s uranium stockpile inside the Iranian territory for the time that it takes to find a supplier.
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