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Iran open to new talks on fuel swap

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterates Iran’s readiness to play a “constructive and positive” role in breaking the stalemate in nuclear fuel swap deal.

President Ahmadinejad’s offer came in talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Monday on the sidelines of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

According to the fuel swap proposal, Iran is required to ship most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing and conversion into fuel rods for Tehran’s research reactor, which produces medical isotopes.

While Iran accepted the swap proposal in general terms, it demanded for tangible guarantees that the other parties involved — Russia and France — would in fact deliver the fuel in a timely manner. The talks reached a stalemate after the Iranian stipulation was ignored by the West.

Iran called for simultaneous exchange of nuclear fuels or similar guarantees after voicing concerns about past practices of Western nations in arbitrary violating and even abrogating their nuclear contracts with the Islamic Republic.

Regarding Iran’s interaction with Europe, Ahmadinejad said Iran is ready to cooperate with the European Union on a wide range of issues.

The UN chief praised Ahmadinejad’s speech at the NPT Review Conference, saying his remarks were “constructive.”

He added that the attendance of the Iranian president in the conference showed that the Islamic Republic attaches special significance to settling global issues.

Ban expressed optimism that negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US – plus Germany (P5+1) would reconcile unresolved issues.

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