Tehran threatens to enrich uranium locally if IAEA deal fails

Tehran, Nov 24 (DPA) Tehran has warned that if a uranium exchange deal proposed by the international community failed, Iran would enrich uranium by itself, the official news agency IRNA reported.

“If the uranium for the Tehran reactor is not provided via the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), then we will perform the enrichment process at home,” said Ali Baqeri, deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Monday.

The Iranian official spoke in reference to an IAEA -brokered deal to export Iranian low-grade enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France where it would be enriched for use as fuel in Tehran’s medical-purpose reactor.

“We basically have no problem with the IAEA plan but just want the swap of LEU with fuel inside Iranian soil so that we are reassured that the deal would also be fully realized,” Baqeri said.

Iran says that it would prefer to either buy the fuel, make a swap inside Iran or process the LEU by itself.

The world powers however want Iran to stick to the initial IAEA plan and export to Russia and later to France the 1.2 to 1.4 tonnes of LEU made at the central Iranian plant of Natanz. They consider the latest Iranian position as a de facto rejection of the deal.

Tehran however says that it has negative experiences, specially with France, over similar deals and therefore only will accept a simultaneous swap.

Regarding further nuclear talks with the six world powers after the Oct 1 meeting in Geneva, Baqeri said despite promises by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the so-called 5+1 group seems not yet prepared to resume the talks.

“The problem is them,” Baqeri said, reiterating the Iranian wish to resume talks with the five UN veto states Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany.

Although the deal over the uranium exchange deal for the 41-year-old Tehran reactor – scheduled to be closed down in a few years – could not lead to a settlement of the whole nuclear dispute, world powers consider the deal as a first breakthrough in removing the concern that Iran was working on a secret military programme.

The world powers have warned Iran of renewed financial sanctions if Tehran did not make a clear reply by the end of the year.

Iran however regards its stance as legitimate and says the literature of sanctions is outdated.