CNN–Wire Staff, 05/17/2010
Iran will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent, it said Monday, despite agreeing hours earlier to ship its low-enriched uranium to Turkey. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Islamic Republic News Agency shortly after the announcement of the deal with Turkey that Iran will not stop enriching its own uranium. “We are not planning on stopping our legal right to enrich uranium,” he told CNN by telephone.
That deal had been designed to answer international concerns that Iran was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons — a charge it has long denied. Mehmanparast said the United States and its allies should accept the proposal. “I don’t think there’s any reason why any country would reject this agreement,” he said. “This agreement is based on the same requirements and criteria as the previous proposal. This is what they had asked for. If they come back and say no then it will show they are not serious about reaching an agreement.”
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said he hoped the deal would lead the United Nations nuclear energy watchdog to close its file on Iran “forever.”
“Foreign Minister (Manouchehr) Mottaki told U.N. Security Council ambassadors last week that this enrichment would continue regardless of any deal to resupply the Tehran Research Reactor. There is no apparent civilian use for this material and it underlines Iran’s disregard for efforts to engage it in serious negotiation,” British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said in a statement Monday.
Michael Slackman– New York Times, 05/17/2010
CAIRO — Iran announced an agreement on Monday to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a deal that could offer a short-term solution to its ongoing nuclear standoff with the West, or prove to be a tactic aimed at derailing efforts to bring new sanctions against Tehran. The deal, negotiated by Turkey and Brazil, calls for Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, after one year, Iran would have the right to receive about 265 pounds of material enriched to 20 percent from Russia and France.
The terms mirror a deal with the West last October that fell apart when Iran backtracked. But it is far from clear that the Obama administration will agree to it now — in part because Iran has continued to enrich uranium, adding to its stockpiles. In October, the 2,640 pounds that Iran was supposed to ship out of the country represented about two-thirds of its stockpile of nuclear fuel — enough to ensure that it would not retain sufficient nuclear material to make a weapon.
But now, the same amount of fuel accounts for a smaller proportion of its declared stockpile.
According to a Western diplomat who spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, the amount of low-enriched uranium that Iran was prepared to ship to Turkey was believed to represent a little more than half its current stockpile.
Washington Post editorial, 05/15/2010
LAST SUNDAY, Iran hanged five Kurdish dissidents, including a 28-year-old woman, who said they had been tortured into confessing to charges of terrorism. On Monday it announced that the Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who covered last year’s fraudulent presidential election for Newsweek, had been sentenced in absentia to 74 lashes and 13 years in prison. This is probably just the beginning of a brutal wave of repression aimed at preventing the opposition Green Movement from rallying as next month’s anniversary of the election approaches.
But on Saturday, Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva will arrive in Tehran in yet another effort to “engage” the extremist clique of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Lula and Turkish President Abdullah Gul claim to be making a last effort to broker a deal with the regime that will avert another round of U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program. No one outside their own governments thinks they will succeed. And will Mr. Lula even bother to mention the blood spilled by his hosts this week? Don’t hold your breath.
Iran talked up chances of a deal on a nuclear fuel swap Saturday, the day after U.N. Security Council power Russia said the likelihood of Brazil brokering a deal were 30 percent at best. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva planned to press Iran’s leaders in a weekend visit to Tehran to revive the stalled U.N.-backed proposal whereby Iran would send low-enriched uranium abroad and get back higher grade uranium. The deal is aimed at allaying the West’s concerns over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Matthew Lee-The Washington Post, 02/25/10
The Obama administration is making a face-to-face argument to Brazil to support tough new U.N. sanctions against Iran, with upcoming visits by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and another senior diplomat.
Brazil now holds a voting seat on the U.N. Security Council, and its support is important as the U.S. argues Iran should be penalized for refusing to come clean on its suspect nuclear program. Brazil has been cool to the prospect of hitting Iran with new sanctions.