The Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that the clock is now running for Iran to respond to a draft deal over the delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran.
Mike Mullen expressed concern over Iran’s response to UN-backed proposal, which was first floated by the Obama administration. The offer requires Iran to send most of its domestically-enriched uranium out of the country for further refinement.
Mullen said while he supports the aforementioned offer, he would rather have plans for a military strike on Iran, whether by Israel or the United States, as a last resort.
“I grow increasingly concerned that the Iranians have been non-responsive. I’ve said for a long time we don’t need another conflict in that part of the world,” said the top US military officer.
“I’m not predicting that would happen, but I think they’ve got to get to a position where they are a constructive force and not a destabilizing force,” he added.
Iran, however, has not accepted the proposal, calling for “concrete guarantees” for the return of its fuel as some Western countries’ have previously failed to adhere to their nuclear commitments with regards to Tehran.
The US has refused to consider Iran’s concerns and insists the draft deal is “unchangeable.”
The Islamic Republic has put forth a counter-proposal suggesting that 400 kilograms of 3.5 percent enriched uranium be taken to the Island of Kish for a simultaneous swap with an amount equivalent to 20 percent of the original batch.
Iran needs the fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor that produces radioisotopes used in cancer treatment by over 200 hospitals in the country.
Washington and a number of European countries say “they have suspicions” about Iran’s nuclear plans, accusing the country of attempting to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran, which is a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unlike some of its regional neighbors, has categorically dismissed the accusations, saying its plans aim to generate electricity for a growing population.
In a Friday press conference on the sidelines of UN Climate talks in Copenhagen, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that attempts to link nuclear technology to nuclear bombs is a pretext used by certain states that wish to dominate the world.
“If we consider nuclear technology as equal to nuclear bombs, we will be depriving human beings of its [technological] benefits,” said Ahmadinejad, adding that those who tie the two concepts together are countries which both “own a nuclear bomb and use nuclear energy.”