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‘Turkey option for nuke exchange with West'
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 26 - 12 - 2009

Iran has said Turkey could be a venue for Tehran to exchange nuclear material with the West, the latest in several counteroffers by the Persian nation that have frustrated US demands it directly accept a key UN-drafted deal.
The deal aims to ease concerns Tehran could build a nuclear weapon by removing most of Iran's low-enriched uranium from the country.
Iran “does not have a problem with Turkish soil” as the location for an exchange of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state TV late Thursday.
While the remarks signaled a slight change in stance - Iran has earlier said it would only accept such an exchange on its own territory - they represent no significant shift in Iran's policy.
The US and its allies have demanded Iran accept the terms of the UN-brokered plan as is, without changes.
Under the plan, drafted last month, Iran would export its low-enriched uranium for further enrichment in Russia and France, where it would be converted into fuel rods. The rods, which Iran needs for a research reactor in Tehran, would be returned to the country about a year later.
Exporting the uranium would temporarily leave Iran without enough stockpiles to further enrich the uranium into the material for a nuclear warhead. Iran says it has no intention of building a bomb, maintaining its program is for generating electricity.
At various times, Iran has proposed swapping material in batches, which would not necessarily reduce its ability to build a bomb. At other times it has insisted on a simultaneous swap inside Iran, or threatened to just produce the fuel rods on its own.
The West needs to prove its goodwill intentions toward Tehran first, Mottaki said in the interview on state TV.
“Exchange is acceptable,” he said. “They (West) have to do the trust-building, then it is pursuable.” Iran is able to produce the fuel on its own, Mottaki said, calling this a “preferable” option while adding that Iran is still ready for talks with the West.
“The ball in their own court, they should answer us,” said Mottaki. “Threat and sanctions are useless.” Enrichment is at the core of the nuclear controversy. Low enriched uranium is used to fuel a nuclear energy reactor, but highly enriched uranium can be turned into a nuclear warhead. Once converted into rods, the uranium cannot be enriched further.
The UN has demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment, a demand Tehran has refused, saying it has a right to develop the technology under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has also defiantly announced it intends to build the 10 new uranium enrichment sites, drawing a forceful rebuke from the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
The US and its allies are threatening to impose more sanctions on Iran if it does not cooperate .


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