IAEA must rule on Iran-Turkey nuclear deal: France

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French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that the United Nations' nuclear watchdog must be the first body to respond to Iran's agreement to send its nuclear fuel to Turkey for enrichment.

Kouchner cautiously welcomed Iran's agreement to send lightly enriched uranium to Turkey, but added that he had not seen the text of the accord.

"It's not up to us to respond, it's up to the International Atomic Energy Agency," Kouchner told AFP and Radio France Internationale.

The deal could allow Tehran to avert a new round of UN sanctions that have been for months at the centre of tough negotiations between the global powers, but Kouchner noted that these talks had made progress.

"Some important progress has been made over the past two days on the UN resolution," at the Security Council, Kouchner added.

"I am happy that there has been this accord" between Iran, Brazil and Turkey, he said before praising "our Turkish and Brazilian friends who showed tenacity" in their talks with Tehran.

Turkey said there was no need for talk of further sanctions following the deal to ship the low-grade uranium to Turkey in exchange for nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor.

Under the agreement, Iran will deposit 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its lightly enriched uranium in Turkey within a month and would then receive 120 kilograms of fuel for the Tehran research reactor within a year.

Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment, which the West suspects is part of a covert nuclear weapons programme.

Tehran denies the claim and maintains its nuclear programme is for peaceful civilian use.

© 2010 AFP

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