France unlikely to return uranium to Iran

France unlikely to return uranium to Iran

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 13 /Trend T. Konyayeva /

There is little probability of France's returning natural uranium available in storage to Iran because of the doubts of the international community regarding the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear development and the adopted sanctions, experts said.

"Today, the likelihood that France will return the uranium to Iran is small," president of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky said via e-mail. The problems between Iran and the IAEA are not resolved. It leads the international community by the nose. Sarkozy is well aware about it. Moreover, it mainly depends on the position of the Arab monarchies of the Gulf, who fear nuclear Iran much more than the West, in the operations against Libya."

On Monday, Iran's representative to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Tehran calls for France to give 50 tons of uranium.

Soltanieh said that the Lausanne court acknowledged that the uranium belongs to Iran, but the French government still refuses from returning it. The Iranian representative said that Tehran agrees to the transfer uranium to Russia, where fuel will be produced from this material for the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

He added that Tehran had agreed to return even 10 tons to produce 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20-percent level used in the Tehran research reactor.

According toexpert on atomic energy Reza Taghizadeh, Iran's claims to the old deal Iran brokered in 1974 with France, as part of a 1 billion US Dollar partnership with Eurodif Co, is true, and France should, one way or another, compensate it.

"However, with fourth UN Security Council's sanctions imposed against Iran, even if France would like to do anything about the old deal cannot do anything about it," Taghizadeh told via e-mail.

Lausanne tribunal in France has supported Iran's ownership of the 50 tons uranium but neither had the legal authority to order French government to give up the stock nor did say such thing, he added.

In 1973, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden created a joint uranium enrichment company Eurodif. In 1974, Sweden refused from participating in the project, and 10 percent of the company were transferred to Iran as a result of the agreement between France and Iran in 1975.

According to the agreement, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi lended $1 billion in 1974 (later in 1977, $180 million) to build a uranium enrichment plant, to be eligible to buy 10 percent of the finished product.

Iran continues to be a shareholder of Eurodif via Sofidif, a Franco-Iranian consortium. Roughly 25 percent stake in Eurodif falls to it.

Iran has terminated her partnership with Eurodif in 1979 and France has paid part of Iran's initial investment so far, Taghizadeh added.

The renewed claim about 50 tones of natural uranium that France has kept for 3 decades and continues to refuse to send to Iran, has more to do with the so called unreliability of the foreign sources that Tehran has long reiterated in order to justify enrichment of uranium domestically, Taghizadeh believes.

"It [the requirement] is not caused by hopelessness of the situation with the conversion of uranium into nuclear fuel rods under the mediation of Russia," he said.

In late November 2010 the head of the Atomic Energy of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Iran has produced more than 35 kilograms of enriched uranium up to 20 percent. Salehi added that Iran can produce an average of 3 kilograms of highly enriched fuel a month.

Before the revolution in 1979, had purchased $700 million of Yellow Cake from South Africa and still is using that stock in her enrichment programs, Taghizadeh said.

Iran has a similar claim, directed to Germany, about 37 tones of uranium that has been kept there for 30 years with no intention of being sent to Tehran, so far as the existing circumstances are still in place, Taghizadeh said.

"Iran is happy to buy natural euranium or yellow cake from any supplier at any price, but there is no any foreign source that could legally deal with Iran," he told.

Several countries, including the U.S., are sure that Iran strives to develop nuclear weapons, and call for to prevent this development. Tehran denies all the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at meeting the country's electricity needs.

The U.S. and other Western countries accuse Iran of developing nuclearweapons under cover of peaceful nuclear energy program. Tehran deniesthe accusation, saying its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful innature.

The UN Security Council adopted the resolutions to impose sanctions against Iran four times, by urging Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment activities, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons. However, it is necessary as fuel for nuclear power plants.

Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, as well as additional unilateral sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress and the foreignministers of all EU countries, were primarily directed against the banking, financial and energy sectors of Iran.

Restrictions imposed by the EU include the ban on the sale of equipment, technologies and services to Iran's energy sector; the same measure refers to the refining industry.

According to Taghizadeh, there have been many reports in the past few years indicating Iran's attempt to smuggle nuclear materials from all over the world.

"But foreign sources compliance with the international law and their refusal to satisfy Iran's expectations could hardly justify smuggling attempts and clandestine deals in the black market," he said.

Satanovsky said that another cigarette will not harm the health during the eruption.
"If even the international community expresses its concern about Iran's nuclear program, it should maintain this course or to agree that Iran can do everuthing you want in the nuclear field," he said.

Satanovsky thinks that Russia, being a neighbor of Iran, is mainly interested in the peaceful settlement of its contradictions with the international community on nuclear issues.

"We are not ready to meet Tehran to obtain nuclear weapons," he said. But it seems that Iran simply does not have other opportunities to solve the problems, except using Russia's proposals."

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