Middle East

Ahmadinejad says Iran nuclear fuel deal 'still alive'

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 11 June
Image caption Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has refused to halt uranium enrichment

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey is still on the table, despite the adoption of new UN sanctions last week.

Mr Ahmadinejad said the deal could help defuse the conflict with Western powers over Iran's nuclear programme.

It provides for Tehran to send enriched uranium abroad in return for high-grade fuel for a research reactor.

Iran had earlier threatened to withdraw the offer if the US pursued sanctions.

Fuel deal

Under the deal brokered in May, Iran agreed to deposit 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium with Turkey, in return for reactor fuel.

But the US and its Western allies said the agreement was too little too late, and pressed ahead with a fourth round of sanctions on Wednesday.

"The Tehran declaration is still alive and can play a role in international relations even if the arrogant [Western] powers are upset and angry," Mr Ahmadinejad said on state television, during a meeting with visiting Turkish parliament speaker Mehmet Ali Shahin.

A number of Western countries suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear enrichment programme is for peaceful purposes.

The UN Security Council voted by 12 votes to two in favour of the sanctions. Brazil and Turkey voted against, while Lebanon abstained.

The new UN resolution includes measures to prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as missiles and helicopters.

It toughens rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks, and increases the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted by asset freezes and travel bans.

Also on Tuesday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Tehran would protest against the sanctions resolution by sending separate letters to all 15 members of the UN Security Council, the AFP news agency reports.

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