Iran nuclear swap offer still on table: France

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The international community is still prepared to provide Tehran with fuel for a civil research reactor if Iran agrees not to try to enrich its own uranium, France said Tuesday.

The six-nation contact group on Iran -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- offered last year to enrich 1,200 kilos of Iranian uranium in Russia and transform it into fuel rods in France.

But in May this year Tehran signed a rival offer from Brazil and Turkey which would have seen Iran's stock of uranium stored in Turkey while it awaited shipments of enriched nuclear fuel from Russia and France.

Nothing became of that offer, which did not win support in Western capitals, and Tehran has continued to thumb its nose at demands that it halt its own attempts to refine the highly-enriched fuel it would need for a bomb.

"The proposition made by the Six is still on the table," said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. "What the Six are waiting for is a response from Iran, which they have yet to receive."

Negotiations between Iran and the Six on Tehran's nuclear drive will resume next week in Geneva, more than a year after they ground to a halt, as Paris and Washington continue to push for harsher international sanctions.

The United States, Europe and Israel fear that Iran wants to use nuclear technology to build a bomb, but Tehran insists that its programme is a peaceful drive to produce civilian energy.

© 2010 AFP

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