Brazil rejects Israeli accusations over Iran deal

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The Brazilian government rejected Israeli criticism of a deal reached between Iran, Turkey and Brazil on Monday aimed at allaying concerns over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

Under the deal inked in Tehran, Iran will ship 1,200 kilogrammes (2,640 pounds) of low enriched uranium to Turkey and in turn will receive 120 kilogrammes of nuclear fuel for its Tehran reactor.

But a senior Israeli official on Monday accused Iran of having "manipulated" Ankara and Brasilia.

"Israel has the right to say what it wants, but it is the first time that Iran has agreed to send its nuclear fuel to a third country," an adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

"Brazil has helped bring the positions together, as a facilitator for dialogue," he told AFP from Tehran, from where Lula da Silva is to travel to Madrid for an EU-Latin America summit.

The fuel swap deal was signed following three-way talks between Lula da Silva, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Iran has been facing a growing threat of new UN sanctions over its controversial atomic programme, and western diplomats said Monday that the deal did not resolve the underlying problem.

However the Israeli official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the arrangement would "radically complicate" efforts by world powers looking to rein in Iran's nuclear programme by means of sanctions.

"It is going to be much more difficult for the United States or the Europeans to reject this arrangement because we won't be only dealing with Iran, which is much easier to handle, but with rising powers, such as Brazil and Turkey, with whom relations are very sensitive," he said.

Turkey and Brazil, which are both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have so far resisted US-led efforts to push through further sanctions for Iran's failure to suspend its sensitive uranium enrichment activities.

© 2010 AFP

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