Iran Nuclear NewsIran rejects UN-proposed nuclear deal

Iran rejects UN-proposed nuclear deal

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ImageAP: Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, effectively rejecting the latest U.N. plan aimed at preventing Tehran from building nuclear weapons. The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

ImageTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, effectively rejecting the latest U.N. plan aimed at preventing Tehran from building nuclear weapons.

Instead Manochehr Mottaki said Iran would consider a nuclear swap inside Iran as an alternative plan.

The United Nations last month offered a deal to take 70 percent of Iran's low-enriched uranium to reduce its stockpile of material that could be enriched to a higher level, and possibly be used to make nuclear weapons.

That uranium would be returned about a year later as refined fuel rods, which would solve the impasse over its nuclear program. Fuel rods cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.

"We will definitely not send our 5.3-percent enriched uranium out of the country," Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki told the semiofficial ISNA news agency. "That means a fuel swap could be considered"

The counterproposal was an indication of Iran's unwillingness to trust the West with its fuel for the time needed to transform it into the more harmless fuel rods.

Mottaki said that Iranian experts were looking at the modified proposal to determine what amounts of uranium should be exchanged for fuel rods.

Under the U.N. proposal, Iran exports its uranium which is enriched at less than 5 percent — enough to produce fuel to burn in plants. Enriching uranium to much higher levels can produce weapons-grade material.

In exchange, the Iranian uranium would be further enriched in Russia and then be sent to France. Once there, it would be converted into fuel rods, which would be returned to Iran.

Mottaki dismissed a comment by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that it only had the most recent U.N. plan as its choice.

"Diplomacy is not all or nothing. Mrs. Clinton's comments that Iran must accept only this proposal is not diplomatic."

The U.S. and its allies see the process as buying time to reach a compromise with Iran by depriving it of the amount of uranium needed to potentially make a nuclear bomb. Western powers believe Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, or at least the ability to produce them on short notice. Tehran says its uranium activities are aimed only at generating electricity.

The amount of uranium that would be exported by Iran under the U.N. plan, about 1.2 tons (1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium, represents about 70 percent of its stockpile. It would have been sent to Russia in one batch by the end of the year, easing concerns the material would be used for a bomb.

Around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium is needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear warhead, according to experts. Iran is believed to have well over that amount of low-enriched uranium in its stockpiles.

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