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West keeps pressure on Iran after nuclear deal

Western Europe kept the pressure on Iran today to reach an agreement with the UN over its nuclear programme or face further sanctions, following the nuclear deal between Iran, Turkey and Brazil.

world Updated: May 17, 2010 19:54 IST

Western Europe kept the pressure on Iran today to reach an agreement with the UN over its nuclear programme or face further sanctions, following the nuclear deal between Iran, Turkey and Brazil.

Iran signed an agreement today with non-permanent UN Security Council members Turkey and Brazil to ship 1,200 kilogrammes of its low enriched uranium to Turkey for a later swap for nuclear reactor fuel.

The deal had appeared to mark a breakthrough in long-stalled discussions over the refuelling of the research reactor.

However, Germany, France and Western diplomats close to the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), did not relax their demands on Iran.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the IAEA must be the first body to respond to Iran's agreement to send its nuclear fuel to Turkey for enrichment.

Similarly, the German government said nothing could replace a deal between Iran and the IAEA.

"It of course remains important that Iran and the IAEA reach an accord," said deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans, adding, "That cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries."

A nuclear fuel swap deal signed by Iran "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran's nuclear programme, the office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said.

"If this reported agreement delivers... of course we welcome such a move," a spokesman for Ashton told AFP.

"This is a move in the right direction but it does not answer all of the concerns raised over Iran's nuclear programme," he added.

Iran is still "a serious cause for concern" despite a nuclear deal between it, Turkey and Brazil, British junior foreign minister Alistair Burt said.

Burt said Iran should "immediately" inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if it is going to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in a fuel swap deal backed by Turkey and Brazil.

"Iran's actions remain a serious cause for concern, in particular its refusal to meet for discussions of its nuclear program, or cooperate fully with the IAEA, and its decision to start enriching low enriched uranium to 20 per cent," Burt added, in a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official accused Iran of having "manipulated" Turkey and Brazil over a deal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel for its Tehran reactor.

"The Iranians have manipulated Turkey and Brazil," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The Iranians have already pulled off such a trick in the past -- by pretending to accept such a procedure to lower tensions and reduce the risk of harsher international sanctions, then refusing to follow through," he said.