TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran on Sunday denied receiving a proposal from Moscow to build a joint venture plant to enrich uranium in Russia but said it was happy to continue negotiations over its nuclear programme with the European Union.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had submitted a formal offer to Iran that would allow it to establish a civilian nuclear programme but transfer enrichment to Russia.
The plan is aimed at easing international concerns that Tehran could make nuclear bombs from highly-enriched uranium.
Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to a low-grade, suitable for use in nuclear power reactors.
"We haven”t received any written and definite proposal from Russia yet," Iran”s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.
"It is clear that we will review with a positive attitude any plan or proposal that recognises Iran”s right for enrichment on it own soil," he added, reiterating a stance which EU diplomats have said amounts to a rejection of the Russian plan.
Iranian nuclear negotiators met counterparts from the EU trio of Britain, Germany and France in Vienna last week for the first face-to-face talks for several months.
Both sides agreed to meet again in January. Asefi said Jan. 18 was a possible date for the next round of talks.
"What was achieved is that the negotiations will continue, which is a step forward in itself," he said. "I believe that if the Europeans respect Iran”s rights there is room for further work."
"We don”t want negotiations just for the sake of negotiations we want negotiations to achieve our right to (produce) nuclear fuel. Of course, we are ready to give guarantees that we won”t deviate from peaceful nuclear activities," he added.
EU diplomats and arms control experts have expressed doubts that the negotiations will resolve the nuclear standoff given the two sides” positions.
Asefi said Iran believed the best solution would be for an international consortium to carry out enrichment in Iran. But Western nations are loathe to allow the Islamic Republic to make nuclear fuel on its own soil.