Tehran, Jerusalem, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iran has handed Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], the official text of the nuclear exchange agreement it had signed with Turkey and Brazil and underlined its intention to press ahead with the implementation of the proposal. IAEA Spokesman Jill Theodore confirmed that Iran has officially informed the IAEA of the agreement and added that the latter would convey the message to the United States, Russia, and France.
On his part and in statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian ambassador who is at present in New York where he is taking part in the ongoing talks that are reviewing the Nonproliferation Treaty, said that, by taking this step, his country has underlined it is serious about pressing ahead with the diplomatic track “which reflects its desire to open a new page of cooperation with the countries that are the parties to the agreement.” He added that “the ball is now in their court and Iran is waiting for a positive response from them.”
In reply to a question about Iran’s insistence on continuing to enrich uranium to 20 percent, Soltanieh stressed that “the enrichment issue is a separate one and has nothing to do with the proposal to exchange fuel.” When asked whether the enrichment issue might be an obstacle to the implementation of the nuclear exchange, the Iranian official asserted that “the talk is now about handing Iran’s approval to the IAEA according to the date stipulated in its agreement with Turkey and Brazil.” He did not however rule out the likelihood that the enrichment obstacle might rear its head later on. Asked if he was optimistic that the exchange deal would be accepted, he said “why not” and urged the other parties which will help provide the fuel to Iran – which are the IAEA, Russia, the United States, and France who are known by the name of the Vienna group – to seize what he called the opportunity and “hasten to implement the agreement as soon as possible.”
Some diplomats are saying that this agreement’s prospects are bleak if Iran does not stop the enrichment of uranium to higher purity levels which it started last February and which raised the West’s fears that it might in the end be able to produce uranium at the level used for making atomic bombs.