Friday the United States gave its official support to a deal about shipping most of Iran's uranium abroad to be enriched for fuel. Iranian state television is reporting, however, that Iran has failed to accept the plan. Iran says that instead it wants to buy the nuclear fuel it needs for a reactor.
The draft proposal to ship Iran's uranium was put forth Wednesday after three days of talks between Iran and world powers. The plan was seen as a way to curb Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon, The Associated Press reports.
It was also reported, Iran said on Friday it had proposed to world powers that it purchase nuclear fuel for its Tehran reactor, state television reported.
"Iran is interested in buying fuel for the Tehran research reactor within the framework of a clear proposal ... we are waiting for the other party's constructive and trust-building response," TV quoted a member of Iran's negotiating team as saying.
Iran was reacting to a proposal from the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it should ship its low-enriched uranium abroad for processing, Reuters reports.
News agencies also report, the Vienna-brokered plan would have required Iran to send 1.2 tons (1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — to Russia in one batch by the end of the year, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Thursday.
After further enrichment in Russia, France would have converted the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Iran for use in the Tehran reactor, he said.
Iran agreeing to ship most of its enriched uranium abroad would significantly ease fears about Tehran's nuclear program, since 2,205 pounds (0.98 tons, 1,000 kilograms) is the commonly accepted amount of low-enriched uranium needed to produce weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear bomb.
Based on the present Iranian stockpile, the U.S. has estimated that Tehran could produce a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015, an assessment that broadly matches those from Israel and other nations.
International concerns about Iran's nuclear program spiked in September when it was revealed the country was constructing a previously undisclosed uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom, Houston Chronicle reports.