WASHINGTON (AFP) – The administration of US President Barack Obama has told Iran it is willing to allow the country to send its stockpile of enriched uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey, for safekeeping, The New York Times reported Monday.
Citing unnamed administration officials and diplomats, the newspaper said the overtures had been made through the International Atomic Energy Agency over the past two weeks.
But all of them have been ignored, the report noted. Instead, the Iranians have revived an old counterproposal that calls for international arms inspectors to take custody of much of Iran’s fuel, but keep it on Kish, a Persian Gulf resort island that is part of Iran.
A senior Obama administration official said that proposal had been rejected because leaving the nuclear material on Iranian territory would allow for the possibility that the Iranians could evict the international inspectors at any moment, the paper said.
That happened in North Korea in 2003, and within months the country had converted its fuel into the material for several nuclear weapons, The Times said.
The intermediary in the exchanges between Washington and Tehran has been Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA director general, according to the report.
He confirmed some of the proposals — including one to send Iran’s fuel to Turkey, which has nurtured close relations with Iran — in interviews in New York late last week, The Times said.
But members of the Obama administration said that they had now all but lost hope that Iran would follow through with an agreement reached in Geneva on October 1 to send its fuel out of the country temporarily, the paper said.