Brazil has said that it would continue its participation in efforts to ease tensions surrounding Iran's nuclear programme provided it received explicit support from the West for its diplomatic intervention.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday in Bulgaria, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said France was ready for further mediation by Turkey and Brazil to help defuse tensions with Iran. “If this is also the desire of Iran, which I think it is, but also of the other two [in the Vienna Group], we will be more than glad to help. But it has to be on the basis of a very clear expression of interest,” he said. Apart from France, the United States and Russia are part of the Vienna group that emerged following talks in October in the Austrian capital among these three countries and Iran.

Last month, Brazilian and Turkish mediation resulted in the signing of the Tehran declaration, under which Iran agreed to transfer to Turkey, 1,200 kg of its lightly-enriched uranium stocks. In return, Iran was assured of receiving moderately enriched uranium for its Tehran research reactor, which produces nuclear medicine to treat cancer patients. However, shortly after the deal was signed, the Americans circulated a sanctions draft, which eventually resulted in the imposition of a fourth round of sanctions against Iran earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Mr. Amorim welcomed Iran's decision to pursue nuclear diplomacy, notwithstanding the imposition of sanctions. “I am encouraged by the fact that in spite of a lot of rhetoric, which is natural, President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad [of Iran] said that the Tehran declaration was still on the table.”

However, the Brazilian Foreign Minister urged Iran to allay international concerns about its uranium enrichment programme. “We know that there were concerns ... and I think now it's up to Iran to react to these,” he said.

The West has been especially concerned about Iran's decision to enrich uranium to a 20 per cent level. Iran, on its part has argued that it needs this material as fall back to generate fuel on its own for its Tehran medical reactor.

On Wednesday, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iranian atomic energy establishment announced that Tehran had accumulated 17 kg of uranium enriched to a 20 per cent level. He also added that Iran had the capability to “enrich uranium to any percentage, and this is a legal right for the country”. Highly enriched uranium refined to a level above 90 per cent can be used for making atomic weapons.

In Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that Turkey, Brazil and Iran are in regular contact with each other, and reports in a section of the media that Brazil is now reluctant to pursue mediation were false. “We still believe a solution can be found. We are determined to continue our efforts,” Mr. Davutoglu stressed. “Brazil will continue to be with us.”

However, he indicated that Turkey wanted Iran to adopt a “positive tone” in its interaction with the Vienna group.

More In: International | News