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Dialogue over nuclear fuel swap to continue: Iran

world Updated: Jun 29, 2010 16:12 IST

AFP
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Iran said on Tuesday that its decision to freeze talks with world powers for two months relates only to its overall atomic programme and does not include discussions on a nuclear fuel deal.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters the issue of Iran's controversial uranium enrichment programme is separate from that of a proposed swap deal that would ensure a fuel supply for the Tehran research reactor.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday ruled out talks with the P5+1 world powers -- Britain, France, Russia, China, the United States and Germany -- on Tehran's uranium enrichment programme until the end of the Iranian month of Mordad, around late August.

The hardliner said Iran wanted more countries to be involved in talks over its nuclear programme, and added world powers must clarify Israel's status of nuclear arsenal and what exactly they sought from the discussions.

Asked at a news conference Tuesday whether the freeze declared by Ahmadinejad includes discussions on a fuel swap deal, Mottaki replied: "The question of Mordad is (only) about the five-plus-one.

"Negotiations about the fuel swap are only about the fuel swap and negotiations with five-plus-one are about the common points of the proposed packages... these two things are separate," he said.

The six world powers have offered to talk with Iran about its controversial nuclear programme, which they want halted fearing it masks a nuclear weapons drive. Tehran strongly denies the allegation.

But Ahmadinejad said on Monday that the UN Security Council's decision on June 9 to impose a fourth set of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment work, the most sensitive part of its atomic drive, had made talks impossible in the short term.

"We are postponing the talks because of the bad behaviour and the adoption of the new resolution in the Security Council. This is a penalty, so that they (the world powers) are disciplined to learn the way of talking to other nations," he said.

Iran has been separately engaged since October in talks with the US, Russia and France and in recent weeks with Brazil and Turkey over a nuclear fuel deal for the Tehran research reactor.

The US, Russia and France have sent a list of questions to Iran regarding the fuel deal which was proposed by Iran, Brazil and Turkey on May 17.

Mottaki said "the answer to the letters sent by the Vienna group is being prepared" and stressed that Iran has been discussing the May 17 proposal with Brazil and Turkey, who brokered it.

The deal stipulates that Tehran will send 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France to be supplied at a later date with high-enriched uranium for the Tehran reactor.

"There have been contacts and communication between foreign ministers (of Iran, Brazil and Turkey) last week and we have concluded that this course should continue," Mottaki said.

"There is a three-way meeting on the agenda whose date will be announced in one or two days."

World powers led by Washington have rejected the May 17 proposal, now known as the Tehran Declaration, and on June 9 went ahead and voted for a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran.