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Lula warns UN over Iran sanctions

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Wednesday warned of a setback over Iran’s nuclear programme if the UN Security Council failed to show a willingness to negotiate with Tehran following its fuel swap deal.

“It depends on the UN Security Council to sit down with a willingness to negotiate, because if it feels it does not want to negotiate, everything will be put back,” he told a business conference in Madrid.

He was reacting to a UN draft resolution introduced by the United States on Tuesday to slap tough new sanctions on Iran, despite Iran’s fuel swap deal aimed at averting such sanctions.

The deal signed Monday by the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Brazil commits Iran to depositing 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low enriched uranium (LEU) in Turkey in return for fuel for a research reactor.

Iran has touted it as a breakthrough but Western countries have remained sceptical and made clear it does not remove the need for new UN sanctions.

“The only thing that we wanted was to convince Iran that it must make a commitment with” the International Atomic Energy Agency “to negotiate and place its uranium in Turkey — and that’s what was agreed.”

The deal “is exactly what the United States wanted to do five months ago.”

The United States, France, Russia and the IAEA made an offer last October to ship most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium out of the country in return for higher grade reactor fuel supplied by Russia and France. Iran rejected the offer.

Western nations suspect Iran’s nuclear programme hides a covert effort to make a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charges.