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Iran offers more dialogue, no concessions on nuclear deal

world Updated: Nov 19, 2009 11:53 IST
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Iran said on Thursday it was open to more talks but offered no concessions after rejecting a Western proposal for it to send most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium abroad in return for nuclear fuel.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking to reporters at the end of an overnight visit to the Philippines, also dismissed the prospects of more sanctions even as US President Barack Obama warned of the "consequences" of Tehran's stance.

He said Iran had broached to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei the idea of a simultaneous exchange of uranium for fuel, instead of the Western proposal that Iran export more than 70 per cent of its stocks before receiving any nuclear fuel in return.

"We raised to Mr ElBaradei of the IAEA and the other sides the suggestion regarding the swap of the fuel, and within that framework we reviewed the swapping and exchanging of that fuel within the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the form of a straight swap," Mottaki said.

"If they insist on this suggestion we could discuss and work within the framework."

The UN nuclear watchdog, which has been brokering the negotiations, has already said that idea is unacceptable to the Western powers.

Shortly after the foreign minister's comments in Manila, Obama, who is visiting South Korea, declared that Washington and its partners were now discussing "consequences" in the form of toughened sanctions on Iran.

"Sanctions was the literature of the '60s and the '70s," Mottaki retorted when asked about the prospect of more sanctions.

"Well, in the last four years they have the experience of doing so. And I think they are wise enough not to repeat failed experiences. Of course it's totally up to them."

Western leaders have expressed fears that Iran might covertly divert some of its uranium stocks and enrich them further to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb, an ambition Iranian officials strongly deny.

Western governments support the UN-brokered deal because they believe it would leave Iran with insufficient stocks of low-enriched uranium with which to make a bomb.

Under the IAEA-brokered proposals, Iran would send out 1,200 kilograms (more than 2,640 pounds) of enriched uranium, which would then be further enriched by Russia and converted into fuel by France before being supplied to the Tehran reactor.