|TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran announced that its written response to the Vienna Group (the US, Russia, France and the International Atomic Energy Agency) on nuclear fuel swap will be forwarded to the IAEA officials on Monday.|
“The letter will be delivered to the IAEA Director-General (Yukiya Amano) today,” an Iranian source privy to Iran-West nuclear talks told FNA on Monday.
Last year Iran announced to the 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%-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.
West’s reaction not only surprised, but also angered Turkish and Brazilian officials who had started talks with Tehran at the US request. Ankara and Brasilia expected a positive reaction from the US and its western allies after they struck the nuclear swap deal with Tehran and they were astonished to see Washington’s belligerent approach and adoption of fresh sanctions against Iran.
The US-sponsored sanctions resolution was eventually approved at the UN Security Council on June 9, but with Brazil and Turkey’s opposition and Lebanon’s abstention.