Davutoglu and Mottaki .
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
powers reacted skeptically Wednesday to Iran's
offer to send uranium abroad for enrichment, questioning the
sincerity of the bid to end Iran's
showdown with the West.
French Foreign Ministry Bernard Kouchner said he saw
the surprise Iranian gesture as stalling rather than responding to an
international offer that, if rejected, could lead to a new round of
"My (personal) interpretation is that they are
buying us time and they are losing it" themselves, Kouchner said
at a joint press briefing with China's foreign minister. "I am
perplexed and even a bit pessimistic."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told
journalists that "Iran has to be
measured by its actions, not by what it says."
"It is up to Iran
to show an end to its refusal to negotiate," he said.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran
was ready to send its uranium abroad for further enrichment as
requested by the United Nations. An International Atomic Energy
Agency proposal last year envisaged Iran
sending low-enriched uranium to Russia and then to France for further
enrichment and then processing into metal fuel rods for use in a
research reactor in Teheran. It was aimed at lowering international
tensions between Iran and the countries
negotiating over its nuclear program — the US, China, Russia,
Britain, France and Germany.
Britain's Foreign office said Wednesday that: "We
have always supported the proposal that the IAEA made in October. If
Iran is now indicating that they will
take it up we look forward to them making that clear to the IAEA."
Russia and China, which has taken over the presidency
of the UN Security Council, have been reticent about voting a fourth
round of sanctions on Iran. US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton said last week that she and others who
support additional sanctions on Iran
over its disputed nuclear program are lobbying China to back new UN
penalties on the Iranian government.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jieche stressed the
need to continue negotiations with Iran
and come up with a quick diplomatic solution.
"We want a consensus as soon as possible,"
It was unclear how much of a concession the
Ahmadinejad comments represented.
He appeared to be saying for the first time that Iran
was willing to ship out its enriched uranium and wait for it to be
returned in the form of fuel for its Teheran research reactor. But
his time frame of four or five months appeared to fall short of the
year that Western officials say it would take for Iran's
enriched fuel to be turned into fuel rods for the reactor.
"If Iran is willing
to revert to the plan agreed upon earlier, we will only welcome
this," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news
conference: "We want to verify this information now."Iran's foreign minister
said the plan to send its uranium abroad was aimed at building
confidence in the country's nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Turkey
that swapping low-enriched uranium with uranium enriched by 20
percent was "a formula which could build confidence."