ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey’s prime minister Saturday accused Western powers of lacking a “fair and sincere” approach on Iran in a mounting row over a nuclear swap deal with Tehran, Anatolia news agency reported.
Speaking to Turkish journalists during a visit to Brazil, Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated criticism of the West for staying mum on Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, Anatolia reported.
Without naming the Jewish state, he said: “You do not show the same approach here but you stir up the world concerning Iran. I do not see this as a fair, honest and sincere approach.”
Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have been in a deepening confrontation with the United States over its dismissal of a nuclear swap deal the two hammered out with Tehran on May 17.
Washington insists the Security Council should press ahead with fresh sanctions against the Islamic republic, which the West suspects of seeking to develop an atomic bomb under the guise of nuclear energy production.
Erdogan hit back at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said Thursday that the Brazilian-Turkish deal’s effect of “buying time for Iran… makes the world more dangerous, not less.”
“The step that we took is not one that puts the world in danger. On the contrary, it is a step to prevent attempts to put the world in danger,” Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying.
“We have said it from the very beginning — we do not want nuclear weapons in our region,” he said.
The accord commits Iran to depositing 1,200 kilogrammes (2,640 pounds) of low enriched uranium in Turkey in return for 120 kilogrammes of more highly enriched uranium suitable for research and medical use.
France and Russia had previously offered to supply Iran with the higher-enriched fuel.
Erdogan accused Western leaders of backpedalling from conditions they had set for Iran after Turkey and Brazil secured those terms in the accord, and he named French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“In our previous contacts, they had said they can give the (highly enriched) uranium to Iran in 10 months… We put a clause of one year, securing an advantage of two extra months.
“Now they are saying these 120 kilogrammes (of uranium) cannot be made before two years… Mr. Sarkozy says so. It is impossible to understand that,” he said.
Erdogan said he and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would maintain diplomatic efforts to drum up support for the swap deal.
He said he was likely to discuss the issue with US President Barack Obama during a G-20 summit in Canada next month.