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18:40 | 2010-05-04


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Spokesman Optimistic about N. Fuel Swap

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said on Tuesday he is still optimistic that a long-waited nuclear fuel swap between Tehran and the West would eventually take place.

"The grounds that we have observed indicate that this (swap) is possible and show our strong logic," Mehman-Parast said in his weekly press conference here in Tehran today.

"If the opposite sides are really ready to swap fuel, then we will do the swap," Mehman-Parast added.

He reiterated Iran's conditions for nuclear swap - simultaneous swap of certain amounts of enriched uranium inside the Iranian soil - and stated, "We are still ready for swapping fuel. And such an exchange may build some confidence between the two sides."

After Iran announced to the IAEA that it had run out of nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran, the Agency proposed a deal according to which Iran would send 3.5%-enriched uranium and receive 20%-enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

The proposal was first introduced on October 1, when Iranian representatives and diplomats from the Group 5+1 held high-level talks in Geneva.

But France and the United States, as potential suppliers, stalled the talks soon after the start. They offered a deal which would keep Tehran waiting for months before it can obtain the fuel, a luxury of time that Iran cannot afford as it is about to run out of 20-percent-enriched uranium.

The Iranian lawmakers rejected the proposed deal after technical studies showed that it would only take two to three months for any country to further enrich the nuclear stockpile and turn it into metal nuclear rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, while suppliers had announced that they would not return fuel to Iran any less than seven months.

Iran then put forward its own proposal that envisages a two-staged exchange. According to Tehran's offer, the IAEA safeguards nearly one third of Iran's uranium stockpile inside the Iranian territory for the time that it takes to find a supplier.

Despite an 'all-or-nothing' response from the West, Iran's Foreign Minister has frequently reiterated Tehran's continued readiness to resume negotiations with the Group 5+1 to find a mutually acceptable method for the swap.