Turkey, Brazil seal nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran

Turkey, Brazil seal nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, his Brazilian counterpart Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, left, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, talk before signing an agreement to ship most of Iran's enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal, in Tehran on Monday.AP

The agreement, under which Iran will receive nuclear fuel for its reactors, was signed between foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Brazil. Iran will ship 1,200 kilogrammes of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference after the deal was sealed following marathon 18-hour talks.

Turkey will turn the low-enriched uranium into reactor-grade fuel that can be used by Iran in medical research reactors.The Iranian enrichment to create fuel for research reactor on its own would have taken it closer to levels needed for making weapons-grade material – uranium refined to 90 per cent purity.

The deal would deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of the stocks of enriched uranium that it could process to the higher levels of enrichment needed in weapons production. The material returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods could not be processed beyond its lower, safer levels, which are suitable for use in the Tehran research reactor.
The agreement was brokered by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who flew here yesterday to join negotiations with Iranian officials in what western and Russian authorities have maintained was last chance to avoid new UN sanctions against Iran.

The agreement announced after talks between Lula, Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may frustrate US efforts to step up sanctions against the Islamic republic.

There is "no ground anymore for new sanctions (against Iran)," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at the news conference.He said Turkey will treat the Iranian uranium as "amanat" and "will protect it in our state like our own property."
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said the agreement should "satisfy" international community that no further sanctions are required.

Under a UN-backed deal last October, Iran was to ship 1,200 kg of its low enriched uranium -- enough for a single bomb if purified to high level -- to Russia and France for further processing into reactor-grade fuel.Iran had then stated that it was willing to adopt the proposal provided the exchange was simultaneous and takes place on its soil. The US and its allies did not agree to the condition.

Lula on Sunday met Ahmadinejad and Iran 's most powerful authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters like Iran's nuclear activities.

Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, had offered to mediate to find a resolution to the impasse at a time when world powers are in talks to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran.Further UN sanctions may penalise Iranian banking, shipping and insurance industries.

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