Sunday, November 18, 2007

Iran eyes nuclear options abroad

Iran eyes nuclear options abroad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to discuss with Arab nations a plan to enrich uranium outside the region in a neutral country such as Switzerland.
He made the announcement in an interview for Dow Jones Newswires in Saudi Arabia where he is attending a petroleum exporters' summit.

Gulf Arab states recently proposed setting up a consortium to provide nuclear fuel to Iran and others.

The scheme could allay fears Iran is enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb.

Iran has insisted that its right to pursue a civilian nuclear programme is not up for negotiation.

UN sanctions

Mr Ahmadinejad's comments come after moves by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to facilitate talks between Iran and the US.

She said Switzerland recognised Iran's right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"We will be talking with our [Arab] friends," Mr Ahmadinejad told Dow Jones on the sidelines of the Opec summit.

The plan suggested by the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council foresees the creation of a multinational consortium to provide enriched uranium to power plants in Iran.

Nuclear fuel would be supplied to Iran and other Middle East states looking to build their own nuclear power programmes.

Iran is currently under limited UN sanctions for continuing to enrich uranium in defiance of UN Security Council calls to stop. The US has imposed even tougher sanctions of its own.

Western powers are concerned because, while enriched uranium is used as fuel for nuclear reactors, highly enriched uranium can also be used to make nuclear bombs.

Iran hid an enrichment programme for 18 years, so the Council says that until Iran's peaceful intentions can be fully established, it should stop enrichment and certain other nuclear activities.


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