U.S. says uranium swap deal "still on the table" for Iran
A senior U.S. official said on Friday that a UN-backed uranium swap deal is "still on the table" for Iran, and denied the Obama administration is to circulate a draft resolution on sanctions toward Iran this week in the United Nations, Xinhua reported.
State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley confirmed at a Washington briefing that the deal is not dead in the eyes of the administration, describing it as a "confidence-building measure" for Iran to "address some of our concerns about certain elements of its nuclear program."
"The offer's there for Iran to say yes," he said.
Crowley said relevant countries, namely the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany, the so-called P5+1, have had "discussions on mechanism through which that deal could be implemented." He insisted Tehran accept the deal as it is offered.
Under the draft deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), most of Iran's existing low-grade enriched uranium should be shipped to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel rods with the purity of 20 percent. The higher- level enriched uranium will then be transported back to Iran.
Iran rejected the deal, demanding a simultaneous exchange between low and higher level enriched uranium inside the country, or a phased swap.
As Iran missed a year-end deadline to accept the deal, U.S. officials have been talking about exerting more "pressure" on Iran, and reports have indicated the administration would circulate a draft resolution on sanctions this week in the United Nations.
Crowley dismissed such reports, saying the U.S. side had a number of "very productive conversations in Europe with various countries that share our concerns about the situation in Iran," and developing an idea on how to proceed on the pressure track " will take some time."
The United States and its Western allies have been accusing Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons under the disguise of a civilian program. Iran has denied the accusation and stressed its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.