Major powers deny new offer

WASHINGTON:The United States, France and Russia yesterday denied a new nuclear fuel supply proposal had been given to Iran, as claimed by Tehran, while Israel pushed for harsh sanctions to contain the regime’s atomic ambitions.

“There is no new proposal on the table,” insisted White House spokesman Mike Hammer after the head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, said a new offer had been levied by the major powers beyond the previous offer for Tehran to ship out low enriched uranium and get fuel from France and Russia.

“Mr Salehi ought to know the only offer is the one which was proposed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in October, and which has so far not received a satisfactory response,” said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

Under the proposal drafted by the UN watchdog and backed by the major powers, Iran would ship out most of its uranium stocks in return for receiving fuel for a Tehran reactor.

Salehi told domestic news agencies the new proposal — of which he gave no details — had come in response to Iran’s move last week to begin enriching uranium itself to the 20-percent level required for a Tehran medical research reactor.

The West has been pushing for Iran to ship out all of the low enriched uranium before receiving any fuel, as Iran insists it should only send out the uranium as it receives the fuel and demands the exchange happen on its own soil.