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N-deal with West soon: Iran

world Updated: Feb 07, 2010 00:39 IST

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Iran has indicated that a crucial deal with major western powers to ease concerns about its controversial nuclear programme could reached in “not too distant future”, amid warnings of sanctions.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki who arrived unexpectedly in Munich on Friday to attend an international security conference, said that the chances for an agreement on sending its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment acceptable to all parties “are better now than ever before.”

But, Western officials have disputed the claim. The United States and Germany said on Saturday that they saw no sign Tehran would make concessions on its nuclear programme despite upbeat comments from Iran’s foreign minister over prospects for a deal.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he did not believe agreement was near on a proposal to exchange Iran’s low-enriched uranium for higher-grade fuel for use in a Tehran reactor making medical isotopes, and suggested it was time for more sanctions on Iran.

An accord on exchanging fuel could mark a major breakthrough in the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West fears could be used to produce an atomic bomb.

Tehran says is for peaceful purposes, but China made clear it was too soon to discuss further sanctions.

During the meeting on Friday, the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi rejected demands for sanctions against Iran and called for more patience with the government in Tehran.