Fuel swap talks with Iran may be close

IAEA chief says West has shown willingness to discuss deal.

Yukiya Amano 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Yukiya Amano 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Discussions to facilitate a nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran could start soon, International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said Monday, according to a Reuters report.
In October of 2009 Iran backed out of a fuel swap plan negotiated by the IAEA that would have seen the Islamic Republic shipping its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for medical reactor fuel. This would be a way for Iran to obtain the nuclear fuel Teheran claims it needs for peaceful purposes without their being any danger of the Islamic Republic using the technology to create nuclear weapons.
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In May, Iran discussed a fuel swap deal with Turkey and Brazil in an attempt to avoid being the subject of further UN sanctions because of its uranium enrichment program .  The plan was largely dismissed as a ploy that did not properly deal with the issue and the UN passed a fourth round of sanctions on Teheran. Subsequently, the US and EU have passed more sanctions of their own on the Islamic Republic.
Amano said that he had received positive signs lately from the US, Russia and France about renewing talks aimed at coming to a fuel swap agreement.
Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that talks between his country and the world powers on a plan to supply fuel for a Teheran nuclear reactor should start around late September.
Speaking in Singapore, Amano was cautious, stating that such talks wouldn't necessarily lead to an agreement but that dialogue in and of itself would be a positive step.