Iran called on Tuesday on world powers to accept its agreement to ship its enriched uranium to Turkey and not miss the chance to settle the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programmes.
“We are quite optimistic that the Vienna group will accept the Tehran agreement and not miss the chance of this historic move for settling the dispute,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.
The Vienna group — the United States, Russia and France — were the three countries that initiated an uranium exchange deal in October at the Vienna—based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That deal was made after the international community and UN Security Council demanded Iran halt its own uranium—enrichment programme.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a deal on Monday in Teheran for 1,200 kilograms of Iran’s low—enriched uranium to be kept on Turkish soil until 120 kilograms of higher—grade nuclear fuel are received via Russia and France.
The agreement was greeted with scepticism and caution in the US, Russia and European Union. Washington called the agreement a “positive step” but said it falls short of meeting international demands regarding its nuclear activities.
“It is quite natural that some countries have some questions and still need time to study the 10 items in the agreement, but we hope that the international approach will be logical and positive and that all their ambiguities be removed,” Mr. Mehmaparast said.
“Time was short for a proper and objective evaluation,” the spokesman added, playing down initial cool international reaction to the agreement.
Mr. Mehmanparast argued that both Turkey and Brazil acted as representatives of the international community, making their approval of the agreement effectively an international consensus.
Iran is to send the agreement to the IAEA within a week. The Tehran deal gave the UN nuclear watchdog and the three states of the Vienna group one month to work out a written agreement.
If the agreement is signed, Iran is to transport its low—enriched uranium to Turkey until the medium—enriched uranium is delivered as fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran.
Neither type of the uranium is weapons—grade, but the United States and other countries worry Iran would continue enriching at concentration levels that could eventually lead to a nuclear weapons capability.
Mr. Mehmanparast did not reply to questions by reporters on whether Iran would continue its uranium enrichment if the agreement was implemented.
The spokesman — as well as Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali—Akbar Salehi — had earlier said if the fuel deal is realized, Iran would stop its enrichment because it was not economical for the country.
On Monday, however, Mr. Mehmanparast said Iran would continue enrichment but did not make it clear whether it was until the fuel deal is finalized or beyond that.
The spokesman said that if the Tehran agreement was not accepted by the Vienna group, “then the international community would realize that the world powers used the whole deal as just a pretext for other political aims.” Mr. Mehmanparast said the Tehran agreement should not be interpreted as a concession made by Iran to avoid renewed sanctions but as an effort by it to pursue the path of cooperation rather than confrontation with the world powers.