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Iran’s uranium swap won’t stop sanctions

By agreeing to ship some uranium to Turkey, Iran has not removed the case for further UN nuclear sanctions, western diplomats close to the UN atomic watchdog said on Monday.

world Updated: May 18, 2010 01:08 IST

By agreeing to ship some uranium to Turkey, Iran has not removed the case for further UN nuclear sanctions, western diplomats close to the UN atomic watchdog said on Monday.

“They’re not in trouble over the TRR (Tehran Research Reactor) deal. So fixing the refuelling for that reactor is not going to put them straight in the eyes of the international community,” one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment, which the West fears hides a covert nuclear weapons programme. Tehran insists it will go ahead with enrichment, even after signing the fuel deal.

“It was Iran in the first place who approached the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) because they needed the fuel,” another diplomat said.

“They need that fuel, but they’ve held out on a deal for eight months now. They’re not under sanctions over the TRR. They’re under sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, people shouldn’t forget that.”

Iran announced that it had signed an agreement with Brazil and Turkey, whereby it would ship 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel for a reactor in Tehran that makes radioisotopes for cancer treatment. The deal appeared to mark a breakthrough in long-stalled discussions over the refuelling of the research reactor.

The IAEA has been trying to persuade Iran since October to sign a deal with the US, France and Russia that would see its stockpile of low enriched uranium shipped out of the country and then turned into fuel for the research reactor.