TEHRAN: Iran has decided to turn down proposals from the major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel, a leading member of parliament said today, in a serious setback for UN-brokered efforts to allay Western concerns about its atomic ambitions.
Under the plan thrashed out in talks with France, Russia and the United States, Iran was to have shipped out most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium in return for fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.
The proposals were designed to assuage fears that Iran could divert some of the stocks and enrich them further to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb.
But officials, who strongly deny any such intention, had expressed mounting concern that Iran’s arch-foe Washington might welch on the deal and Tehran might ship out its uranium without receiving anything in return. “We do not want to give part of our 1,200 kilos of enriched uranium in order to receive fuel of 20 per cent enrichment,” said Alaeddin Borujerdi, the influential head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee.
“This option of giving our enriched uranium gradually or in one go is over now,” he told the ISNA news agency.
“We are studying how to procure fuel and (Ali Asghar) Soltanieh is negotiating to find a solution,” he added, referring to Iran’s envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog.
A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said today that it was “still waiting for the formal response” from Soltanieh.
But a second member of the Iranian parliamentary committee also said that response would be negative. “We were not against the exchange,” the ISNA news agency quoted Hossein Naghavi Hosseini as saying.
“But during the negotiation, they were unable to give Iran the confidence and so the response of the Islamic Republic of Iran is negative.” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had said on Friday that Iran was considering alternatives to the exchange deal — either further enriching the uranium on its own for the Tehran reactor or importing the fuel commercially.
But Russia, which would have further processed the Iranian uranium under the UN-brokered deal, warned Tehran it risked further sanctions if it took a “less constructive position.” “I do not want that all this ends up with the adopting of international sanctions because sanctions, as a rule, lead in a complex and dangerous direction,” President Dmitry Medvedev said in comments released by Kremlin.