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Iran - nuclear negotiations

US doubts Iran uranium deal claim

Article published on the 2010-02-06 Latest update 2010-02-07 08:27 TU

Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki gestures during news conference at Conference on Security Policy in Munich(Photo: Reuters)

Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki gestures during news conference at Conference on Security Policy in Munich
(Photo: Reuters)

Iran is close to a final deal on sending some of its uranium abroad for enrichment, according to its Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. But US and European Union officials have expressed their scepticism.

"We have created conducive ground for such an exchange in the not very distant future," Mottaki said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

"Under the present conditions that we have reached, I think we are approaching a final agreement. The Islamic republic of Iran has shown it is serious about doing this, and we have shown it at the highest level."

Mottaki claimed to have had a "very good meeting" with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief at a security conference in the German city of Munich.

But US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates responded by saying that he doesn't have the sense that they are close to an agreement.

The IAEA has proposed that Tehran ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France to be purified into reactor fuel. This would ease Western fears that Iran is planning to create atomic weapons with its enriched uraniumm. But Iran has not given a clear response. 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tehran has failed to give a proper response and sanctions should be considered.

"Iran must now respond to the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency," said the EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton. "There is a proposal on the table, a creative attempt to build confidence with Iran, on a practical co-operation in the nuclear area."

Despite Mottaki's statement, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani called the proposed deal a political swindle

"They [the Western powers] are trying to ensure Iran's enriched uraniam is removed from the Islamic republic," he said.

"This is just more obfuscation and delay," said former US presidential candidate John McCain on the sidelines of the conference. "It's insulting. They're executing people because they demonstrate, so how can we believe them about uranium when they're just flat out lying about other things?"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad said on Tuesday that Iran would have no problem exporting stocks of low-enriched uranium to be purified into fuel.

"Some made a fuss for nothing," he said. "There is no problem. We sign a contract. We give them 3.5 per cent [enriched uranium] and it will take four or five months for them to give us the 20 per cent."