Iran May Offer Compromise on UN Nuclear Deal
Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said the country may offer a fresh compromise on the nuclear deal offered to it last week.
His comments raise the prospect of further rounds of time-delaying negotiations.
Senior Iranian politicians poured cold water at the weekend on the deal offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. The United States, Russia and France all supported the proposal, under which Iran would send most of its low-enriched uranium to Moscow for further processing.
But the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said on Monday that a partial agreement to the deal was still being considered.
"For the supply of fuel, we may buy it like in the past or we may deliver a part of our fuel that we don't need now," he said, according to state media.
A senior MP gave more details of what might be included in Iran's reply, which the government has promised it will give later this week. The deadline was supposed to have been last Friday.
"Because the West has repeatedly violated agreements in the past, Iran should send its low enriched uranium abroad gradually and in several phases and necessary guarantees should be taken," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament's foreign affairs committee.
It is unclear whether this would satisfy the IAEA and Iran's negotiating partners, and may well be designed both to split the United Nations security council and draw out negotiations even further.
The IAEA deal would see about 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium sent to Moscow and returned as fuel plates for a research reactor, about three-quarters of Iran's stocks.
About a ton of low-enriched uranium would be needed for further processing to build a nuclear weapon if Iran decided to go ahead with one, meaning that the deal would ensure a delay.
Iran denies it wants to build a nuclear weapon, insisting it only wants fuel for the research reactor and a proposed power plant.
The Iranian counter offer will raise suspicions that it only wants to send as much low-enriched uranium abroad as it can replace with its current enrichment programme, which it has pledged not to give up whatever the outcome of talks.
That would leave it with the ability to stage a "break-out" to fast development of a weapon in future, which is what the West and the Israelis in particular fear.
Mohsen Rezai, the conservative secretary of another government body, the Expediency Council, did little to assuage these fears on Sunday when he demanded that Iran had to "keep 1,100 kilogrammes" of low-enriched uranium, just over a ton.