TEHRAN (AFP) – Proposals from world powers to supply nuclear fuel for a research reactor in Iran are still on the table, a leading MP said on Sunday, a day after suggesting that Tehran could reject the deal.
“Our first option is to buy fuel of 20 percent (enrichment),” ISNA and Mehr news agencies quoted Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, as saying.
“But if we cannot buy it we could make a limited exchange on condition that first we get fuel of 20 percent,” he added.
Borujerdi on Saturday said that Iran had decided to reject proposals from major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel, in what was seen as a serious setback for UN-brokered efforts to allay Western concerns about Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
Under the plan thrashed out in talks with France, Russia and the United States, Iran was to have shipped out most of its own stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in return for fuel to power a research reactor in Tehran.
The proposals were designed to assuage fears that Iran could otherwise divert some of its LEU and further enrich it to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb.
Iran insists it nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating electricity.
“We do not want to give part of our 1,200 kilos (more than 2,640 pounds) of enriched uranium in order to receive fuel of 20 percent enrichment,” Borujerdi told ISNA on Saturday.
“This option of giving our enriched uranium gradually or in one go is over now,” he said.
On Sunday he was quoted, however, as saying that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council would take the final decision on the issue.
The government newspaper Iran meanwhile carried a report Sunday in which it quoted experts as saying some of Iran’s enriched uranium could be stored within the borders of the Islamic republic under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during the fuel exchange process.
“Some experts affirm that while waiting for 20 percent fuel to be made (by a third country), Iranian uranium (enriched at 3.5 percent) be stored inside Iran under IAEA control before being sent abroad,” the paper said.
It quoted the unnamed experts as saying that Iran needs “116 kilos of uranium enriched at 20 percent (for its Tehran reactor) and to match that quantity, 800 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent are needed and could be shipped abroad in two phases.”
The newspaper said such a deal could allay the concerns of the various parties.
“A first shipment of 60 kilos of uranium enriched at 20 percent could be sent to Iran, which will deliver simultaneously 400 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent,” the report said.
“An extra 400 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent would be shipped abroad 15 months later in exchange for 60 kilos of fuel, in line with the IAEA proposals,” the newspaper added.
A spokesman for the IAEA said on Saturday that they were “still waiting for the formal response” from Iran’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.