April 5, 2010 / 11:11 AM / 9 years ago

Iran says still ready to negotiate nuclear swap

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is still ready to negotiate a solution to its nuclear stand-off with the West, but only on the condition that foreign powers agree to a fuel swap on Iranian territory, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

With Washington seeking support from fellow U.N. Security Council veto holders Russia and China for new sanctions, Iran remains defiant, saying such measures will not stop it developing the nuclear technology it says is for peaceful use.

“We will not withdraw from our (nuclear) rights with threats and pressure, resolutions and sanctions,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Arab language TV Alalam.

At talks last October with Western powers, China and Russia, Iran agreed in principle to send low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing — addressing concerns it was getting close to developing weapons grade nuclear material.

But soon after those talks it insisted it would, instead, consider swapping its low-enriched uranium stocks directly for more highly enriched uranium, and only within its own borders.

Mehmanparast said that remained the condition for a deal and accused the other parties of reneging on their obligations.

“We told them that you are not honest and it seems like you do not want to provide (us) with the fuel and you are cheating,” he said, according to Alalam’s website.

“If they meet our conditions we are ready to negotiate about the provision of nuclear fuel for Tehran reactor right away , but we won’t negotiate over Iran’s nuclear activities,” he said.

China, a major client for Iranian oil, has so far declined to publicly back renewed sanctions, despite a direct appeal by U.S. President Barack Obama [ID:nTOE63100K]. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called for “flexibility” when he met Iran’s nuclear negotiator on Friday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed Obama’s “extended hand” approach to Iran as empty rhetoric, will “announce a new nuclear achievement” on Friday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told ISNA news agency. He gave no details.

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