France says Iran nuclear swap still on offer
Iran can still take advantage of an offer of fuel for civil research reactor if it agrees not to try to enrich its own uranium, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Tuesday. The offer came shortly after Iran agreed to new nuclear talks in Geneva on 6 and 7 December.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States offered last year to enrich 1,200 kilogrammes of Iranium uranium in Russia and turn it into fuel rods in France.
Iran did not respond to the the offer, except to say its nuclear programme is designed to produce energy not weapons.
In May, Iran signed a rival deal with Brazil and Turkey, which would allow it to store uranium in Turkey while it waited for shipments of enriched fuel from Russia and France.
“The proposition made by the Six is still on the table,” said Valero. “What the Six are waiting for is a response from Iran, which they have yet to receive.”
Iran's chief negotiator Said Jalili will meet for talks with European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, who will lead the international delegation, next week in Geneva. The United States and France are pushing for harsher sanctions against Iran.
Last month an Iranian shipment of arms was intercepted in Nigeria, apparently on its way to the Gambia. Gambia cut off relations with Iran, but none of the six nations involved in the talks next week made a strong public statement.
They may be keeping that weapon in reserve as a negotiating tool, according to Sanam Vakil, Middle Eastern Studies Professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“Should the Iranians be unwilling to compromise at the next meeting, it is likely that the United States, France and Germany and Great Britain and other countries will criticise and condemn Iran for this shipment and this will perhaps lead to something more stringent,” she says.