West keeps pressure on Iran after nuclear deal

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

Iran signed an agreement on Monday with non-permanent UN Security Council members Turkey and Brazil to ship 1 200kg 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 spokesperson Christoph Steegmans, adding, “That cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries.”

Western diplomats close to the IAEA said the deal did not remove the case for further UN nuclear sanctions against Iran.

“They’re not in trouble over the TRR [Tehran Research Reactor] deal. So fixing the refuelling for that reactor is not going to put them straight in the eyes of the international community,” one Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Three sets of sanctions
Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment, which the West fears hides a covert nuclear weapons programme. Tehran insists it will go ahead with enrichment, even after signing the fuel deal.

“It was Iran in the first place who approached the IAEA because they needed the fuel,” another diplomat said.

“They need that fuel, but they’ve held out on a deal for eight months now. They’re not under sanctions over the TRR. They’re under sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, people shouldn’t forget that.”

“Our position has not changed,” the EU President Herman Van Rompuy said in Madrid where he is attending an EU-Latin America summit. “Iran must reassure the international community over the intentions it has for its programme.”

“This is a move in the right direction but it does not answer all of the concerns raised over Iran’s nuclear programme,” spokesperson for the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile, called the deal a “victory for diplomacy”, rejecting earlier comments by a senior Israeli official that accused Iran of having “manipulated” Ankara and Brasilia.

“Brazil has helped bring the positions together, as a facilitator for dialogue,” the president’s spokesperson told Agence France-Presse ahead of Lula da Silva’s visit to Madrid for an EU-Latin America summit.

“Israel has the right to say what it wants, but it is the first time that Iran has agreed to send its nuclear fuel to a third country,” an adviser to the Brazilian president said. — AFP

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