UN watchdog waiting for responses on Iran fuel deal: Amano

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UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said Monday the IAEA was still waiting for official responses from the United States, France and Russia to Iran's proposed fuel swap with Turkey and Brazil.

In his opening address to the traditional June meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors here, Amano said that he had forwarded the proposed agreement to Washington, Paris and Moscow for their views immediately after receiving it from Iran on May 24.

"I am now awaiting their responses, and will continue to consult with all concerned parties on this matter," Amano said.

Diplomats close to the Vienna-based watchdog have said the so-called Vienna group of countries had drawn up a joint response to Tehran's proposal and expected to hand it over to Amano imminently.

Under an IAEA-brokered deal last October, the United States, Russia and France had originally proposed they take most of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) and turn it into the much-needed fuel for a research reactor in Tehran that makes radioisotopes for medical use.

But Iran refused to take up the offer and has drawn up an alternative deal with Brazil and Turkey instead.

The West has for its part cold-shouldered Iran's proposal, saying it did not go far enough to allay fears that Tehran is using its contested nuclear drive as a mask for a covert atomic weapons programme.

© 2010 AFP

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