The West fears Iran is planning to develop nuclear weaponsImage: AP
May 17, 2010
German and EU officials have reserved judgement on a three-way nuclear deal with Iran. Earlier, the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Brazil unveiled the agreement to ship Iranian low-enriched uranium to Turkey.
The agreement would see Iran ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, which it would exchange it for fuel to power a medical research reactor in Tehran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it was time for the so-called five-plus-one countries - the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany - to enter negotiations "based on honesty, justice and mutual respect."
Deputy spokesman for the German government Christoph Steegmans was cautious when assessing whether the deal would prevent new UN sanctions.
"It of course remains important that Iran and the IAEA reach an accord," he told reporters in Berlin. "That cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries."
The office of European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, expressed similar caution, saying the EU would welcome the deal if it delivers on its promises.
"This is a move in the right direction, but it does not answer all of the concerns raised over Iran's nuclear program," a spokesman for Ashton told the AFP news agency.
Push for sanctions
Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the Security Council, had offered to mediate talks on a uranium swap as a last-chance effort to avoid fresh sanctions being imposed on Iran.
The Islamic Republic had failed to accept a deal proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would ship low-enriched uranium to Russia, then later to France for further enrichment.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Monday that the signed agreement "shows that Tehran wants to open a constructive path," and that there was "no more grounds for new sanctions and pressures."
Western nations have long feared Iran's nuclear program is a cover to build a nuclear bomb, despite Tehran's insistence that it is strictly meant for peaceful purposes.