China, US cautious on Iran's overture - Russia reacts positively
China and the United States reacted cautiously to announcements by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he was ready for a multilateral nuclear fuel deal, while Russia struck a more positive note on Wednesday, DPA reported.
Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran was ready to ship its low- enriched uranium out of the country, in exchange for a more highly processed version to be used as fuel in a Tehran nuclear reactor.
The statements made in an interview with state television marked a shift in positions after Tehran had stalled for several months on the deal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna after negotiations with the US, Russia, France and Iran.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it hoped that the involved parties and the IAEA would continue to talk about nuclear fuel supply for the Tehran reactor, which is used for medical purposes. Such talks would serve to find an "appropriate solution," a spokesman said.
China, together with the Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the US, is one of the six countries involved in seeking a solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme.
In Washington, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday that Iran should inform the IAEA if wants to adopt the proposal. "If Mr Ahmadinejad's comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA," National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he welcomed Ahmadinejad's statements, if Iran's leadership was indeed ready to have low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment.
Lavrov expressed regret that Tehran had so far rejected an initial agreement on the fuel deal which had been reached in October. "This mistrust by our Iranian partners astonished us very much," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.
The IAEA did not immediately comment on Ahmadinejad's announcement.
The IAEA and the other involved countries had urged Iran to accept the deal as a confidence-building measure, as it would remove a large share of nuclear material from Iran which could theoretically be used to make nuclear weapons.