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23 Oct, 2009 13:00

Iran wants Russian enriched uranium

World powers are expecting Iran to give its answer on transferring its uranium to Russia for enrichment. It's hoped the agreement, formed in Vienna, will reduce concerns over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The deal already has the full approval of the main parties involved – US, France and Russia.

"Russian experts attended the meeting where the proposals were developed on behalf of the IAEA, formulated by the IAEA director-general. We have agreed to these proposals and we hope that, not only Iran, but also all the other parties to the talks, will confirm their preparedness to implement the proposed scheme," Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said, Interfax news agency reports.

But Iran's endorsement has been far from certain so far, as the country’s deputy parliamentary speaker, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, dismissed the plan on Thursday.

Earlier, Iran has expressed a desire to work directly with Russia on supplying enriched uranium for its nuclear reactor.

Tehran says France and the US will not be able to participate in the project directly, Interfax reports, quoting Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a representative of the Iranian delegation.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei presented the project on Wednesday at a meeting with delegations from Russia, the US, France and Iran.

The document suggests that three quarters, or 1,200 kilograms, of Iran’s lightly-enriched uranium will be taken out of the country by the end of the year for further enrichment. According to the proposed scheme, the low-grade uranium produced at the Iranian plant in Natanz is to be sent to Russia.

If the deal goes ahead, it will ensure that there will be no military action against Iran over the issue for at least 18 months.
This is the figure given by international experts, who believe that much time is needed for Iran to replenish its stockpiles to the current levels.

This deal will allow Tehran to continue with its uranium enrichment program, which the UN Security Council insisted be stopped.

This Sunday, inspectors from IAEA will be visiting Iran’s secret nuclear facility near Qum, which is the site for another reactor recently declared by Tehran.

There hasn’t been any official reaction from Russia either on the draft agreement to deliver enriched uranium to Iran.

"The consultations are still underway. Let's wait for their outcome and announce the results after that," Andrey Nesterenko, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying France's participation is a vital part of the enrichment process. Paris is ready to accept the term proposed by the IAEA and is also planning to start talks with Russia on the issue.