AFP: The United States reacted cautiously Wednesday to a statement by Iran's president accepting a swap of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, saying Tehran should submit a formal offer of the deal to international authorities. WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States reacted cautiously Wednesday to a statement by Iran's president accepting a swap of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, saying Tehran should submit a formal offer of the deal to international authorities.
"If Mr. (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad's comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA," White House official Mike Hammer said, referring to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
Ahmadinejad said late Tuesday that Iran was willing to send its uranium abroad in exchange for processed nuclear fuel — seemingly accepting a deal put forward by nations who fear Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran would have "no problem" sending out its stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be further purified into reactor fuel for use at a research facility, Ahmadinejad said in a television interview.
Hammer, spokesman for President Barack Obama's National Security Council, said the West had made a "good faith and balanced offer" that would provide Iran with fuel for a research reactor.
"We believe it makes sense for all parties," he said.
The State Department echoed White House caution.
"It's unclear what the president was referring to yesterday," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
"We will look for actions as opposed to just words," Crowley said, adding Washington is "seeking clarification through the IAEA as to whether Iran has changed its position."
Iran needs nuclear fuel to power its UN-monitored reactor but the West fears its uranium enrichment program is masking efforts to produce atomic weapons — claims vehemently denied by the Islamic republic.
The IAEA has proposed, in a bid to allay Western fears about Iran's atomic ambitions, that Tehran ship out its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France to be further purified into reactor fuel.
Iran, which agreed in principle to the offer during talks with world powers in Geneva in October, later appeared to reject the deal and said it preferred a gradual swap of LEU with fuel — preferably on Iranian soil.
It gave the West until January 31 to respond to its counter-proposals.