AP: World powers want Iran to agree quickly to the export of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment as it would reduce the risk of the material going for nuclear weapons, France's Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — World powers want Iran to agree quickly to the export of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment as it would reduce the risk of the material going for nuclear weapons, France's Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Talks over the deal are to be at the heart of discussions during a meeting in Vienna on Monday between the United States, Russia, France, Iran and experts from the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
The three world powers want an agreement to be reached during the meeting, said Christine Fages, a ministry spokeswoman, during an online briefing.
Under the deal, Iran would send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium from its Nantaz facility to Russia before the end of the year, Fages said.
As part of the arrangement, France would later produce four fuel cells for a Tehran research reactor, she said.
"France supports this initiative which, if effectively carried out in these conditions, would allow reduction in the short term of the risk that Iran could use this uranium for a nuclear weapon," Fages said.
Such an agreement would be a compromise in the thorny confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. Iran has always refused to involve an outside country, insisting its program is peaceful and for civilian use. The United States and other major powers fear Iran ultimately is looking to build nuclear weapons.
"Iran has everything to gain" from the deal, Fages said, adding it would assure Tehran of long-term access to nuclear fuel for the production of radio isotopes for medical purposes, as it has said it wants. She did not elaborate on the French role.
Iran warned Saturday that if Monday's talks fail to help it obtain fuel from abroad, it will enrich uranium to a higher level needed to power a research reactor. Such a move would heighten tensions in the standoff over its nuclear program.
France's Foreign Ministry said a rapid response from Tehran is important so that "Iran shows, by concrete acts, the deep change in behavior that we are seeking from it on the nuclear issue."
So far, Iran has produced about a ton of uranium enriched to less than 5 percent — way below the 90 percent level of enrichment needed for nuclear weapons.
The Monday meeting follows a landmark encounter between Iran and Western powers in Geneva in early October that put long-stalled negotiations back on track.