x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Brazil urges revival of Iran nuclear swap deal

Brazil wants to see a revival of a nuclear fuel swap deal as a way to end the West's standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme.

TEHRAN // Brazil wants to see a revival of a nuclear fuel swap deal as a way to end the West's standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme, the foreign minister Celso Amorim said today. On a visit to Tehran, Mr Amorim said Brazil wanted to help resolve the dispute which has led the West to seek UN sanctions on Iran, which the United States and its allies fear is trying to build a nuclear bomb. The temporary member of the UN Security Council has resisted US pressure to back sanctions it wants passed in the coming weeks, and Mr Amorim called on all sides to show "flexibility" to reach a compromise.

"There is no political consensus that Iran has to be isolated or for Brazil to move in that direction," Mr Amorim told a news conference alongside his Iranian counterpart. Mr Amorim said he hoped a fuel swap deal, agreed in principle last October, could be revived. The initial agreement was for Iran to ship 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium ? enough for a single bomb if purified to a high enough level ? to Russia and France to make into fuel for a medical research reactor.

Iran later said it would only accept a simultaneous swap on Iranian soil, a change which other parties to the deal said they could not accept because it would fail to build trust. "Iran should have nuclear activities for peaceful purposes and the international community should also be given the guarantee that will be no violation and no diversion to military purposes," Mr Amorim told reporters. A negotiated solution should mean that any "ambiguities" about the nuclear programme are ended, he said.

"The reason we attach high importance to this nuclear fuel swap deal ... is because this agreement in itself is a major one and secondly it creates confidence with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and some Western countries," Mr Amorim said. "We're hopeful that this agreement must be made, but like any other negotiation there must be flexibility on both sides. The Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has warned again "pushing Iran into a corner", is due to visit Tehran in May, reflecting the countries' growing diplomatic and economic ties.

* Reuters