European powers skeptical over Iran-Turkey-Brazil nuke deal
Deal drafted between three countries stipulating that Iran will transfer 1,200 kg of uranium to Turkey for enrichment is not received enthusiastically in Europe, Israel. Germany: No deal can replace draft inked last year. Ashton: Deal does not answer all concerns
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 office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels said the deal "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran's nuclear program.
Germany's Foreign Ministry responded that no agreement could replace the draft inked between Iran and the IAEA last October in which Iran would transfer its enriched uranium to France and Russia, where it would be processed into nuclear fuel rods and returned back to Iran to fuel Tehran's research reactor.
Davutoglu, Moutaki, and Amorim sign deal in Tehran (Photo: AP)
Western diplomats close to the IAEA pointed out that Western concerns were more to do with Tehran's nuclear enrichment program rather than its efforts to secure fuel for the Tehran research reactor.
The deal could allow Tehran to avert a new round of UN sanctions that have been for months at the center 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 program. Tehran denies the claim and maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian use.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there was "no need" for further UN sanctions against Iran in light of the deal.
"This agreement should be regarded positively and there is no need for sanctions now that we (Turkey and Brazil) have made guarantees and the low enriched uranium will remain in Turkey," he said.
Both Russia and the United States had made it clear they considered Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's visit to Iran as Tehran's last chance to stave off a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities.
'Iran manipulated Turkey'
Officials in Jerusalem reported that they are studying the details of the Turkish-Brazilian-Iranian deal for uranium enrichment that was signed in Tehran. According to them, there is concern that the three-way agreement is only for show, and is non-essential.
The officials noted that the deal is being approached with skepticism in light of the Turkish and Brazilian positions towards Iran, as well as the need to prevent additional economic decline in Europe that could result from imposing sanctions on Iran.
A senior Israeli official on Monday accused Iran of having "manipulated" Turkey and Brazil over a deal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel for its Tehran reactor.
"The Iranians have manipulated Turkey and Brazil," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"The Iranians have already pulled off such a trick in the past - by pretending to accept such a procedure to lower tensions and reduce the risk of harsher international sanctions, then refusing to follow through," he said.
The Israeli official said the fuel swap arrangement would "radically complicate" efforts by world powers looking to rein in Iran's nuclear program 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.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Monday for fresh talks with major powers over the country's nuclear program.
"Following the signing of the nuclear fuel swap deal, it is time for 5+1 countries to enter talks with Iran based on honesty, justice and mutual respect," Ahmadinejad said. In addition, Iran announced that it would continue to enrich uranium to 20% on its own.