Iran Says Nuclear-Fuel Talks Should Open in September

By Ladane Nasseri
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Thursday, July 15, 2010; 12:00 AM

July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that talks between his country and the world powers on a plan to supply fuel for a Tehran nuclear reactor should start around late September.

Iran has said it is ready for negotiations with the five veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany on a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in May. It proposed supplying enriched uranium in a form usable in the medical-research reactor in exchange for part of Iran's supply of the material that has yet to be transformed into fuel.

"Turkey and Brazil still adopt the same stance and we welcome their presence in talks," Mottaki said today at a Tehran news conference aired live by state-run Press TV. The two countries "will see that the negotiations be held in the proper way," he said.

The five Security Council members and Germany have pressed Iran to agree to talks on its nuclear program since the council voted to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions last month. The U.S. and the European Union subsequently imposed their own restrictions on Iran.

Mottaki said on July 12 that the world powers had agreed to let Turkey and Brazil participate in the talks, according to Press TV. Western nations last month rejected the plan for a fuel swap because Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after it receives a supply of the material in a form needed to run the reactor. The facility makes isotopes for medical uses such as X- rays and radiation therapy.

Iran has refused international demands to suspend uranium enrichment, saying it is entitled to produce the material under the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed. The U.S. and its allies say Iran's nuclear development may be cover for a weapons program. The Persian Gulf country denies the allegation and maintains the work is necessary for civilian purposes such as power generation.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on June 28 that Iran won't take part in the talks unless the six powers acknowledge that Israel already has nuclear-arms capability. Israel's policy is to neither confirm nor deny that it has such weapons.

The U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany would be represented in the negotiations by the EU's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

© 2010