ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that Iran has still not accepted a proposed nuclear fuel swap deal that could avert a push for sanctions and suggested Iran direct its response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Her comments come after Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met over the weekend with the Director General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano. The IAEA has been monitoring Iran’s nuclear sites and would be the official channel for Iran to respond to the offer put on the table last fall.
“There was nothing new that was presented,” Clinton said today of the weekend meeting, in response to a question by ABC News.
Under the proposed fuels swap deal, Iran would send 1,100 kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad, where it would be further enriched and inserted into fuel rods and returned to Iran for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. Such a deal would provide Iran with the fuel it says it needs for a civilian nuclear program while preventing Iran from further enriching the uranium to weapons grade. Iran initially indicated it was willing to accept the offer, but then provided mixed signals.
The proposal was made in early October during meetings between Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries that have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Those meetings took place just days after the US, France, and Russia revealed a covert Iranian nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom which they said was evidence of Iran’s nefarious intentions for its nuclear program.
The Obama administration had offered Iran until the end of last December to respond positively to offers for talks on its nuclear program but US officials say no substantive responses were received. The United States has since led a push for sanctions over the past several months.
President Obama achieved a major breakthrough when he won China’s support for increased sanctions on Iran earlier this month. At the time he said he expected the United Nations Security Council to pass a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran within “weeks.”
Today, Secretary Clinton seemed to stretch that timeline out a bit, telling reporters that work on sanctions continues and should be completed “sometime in the spring.”