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Reviews : Iran nuclear deal 'close', Mottaki says

Iran's foreign minister has said it is closing in on a deal with world powers over its nuclear programme. In Germany, Manouchehr Mottaki said a deal to send enriched uranium overseas in exchange for nuclear fuel could be reached in a "not too distant future". China, opposed to imposing new sanctions against Tehran, said talks with the international community had reached a "crucial stage".

There was no reaction to Mr. Mottaki's comments from Western delegates. The US and its allies fear Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful in purpose. The Iranian comments came after Mr. Mottaki decided to join the Munich conference - a major international gathering of security officials - at the last minute.
He told a late-night audience that "conducive ground" on a nuclear fuel deal had been reached. "Under the present conditions that we have reached, I think that we are approaching a final agreement that can be accepted by all parties," he said. "[The] Islamic republic of Iran has shown it is serious about doing this, and we have shown it at the highest level," he said.

Diplomatic maneuvering

But Mr Mottaki did not mention the key issue of timing and insisted that the quantity of fuel involved should be up to Iran. In January, diplomats said Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it did not accept the terms of a deal agreed in October by Iran, the IAEA and the so-called P5+1 - the US, Russia, China, UK and France plus Germany.
In response, the US, Britain and France have been pressing for more sanctions and earlier this week circulated a discussion paper on further possible measures against the country. The move came despite recent comments by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicating that the country would have "no problem" sending much of its low-enriched uranium abroad so it could be processed into fuel - an arrangement envisaged by the October agreement.
The BBC's Nick Childs, in Munich, said that Americans and others reacted warily to Mr Ahmedinejad's comments, which suggested that he now saw no problem over the accord. Some saw this as a tactic to derail the push for sanctions, our correspondent says, but it is also clear, he adds, that there has been some intense diplomatic manoeuvring over the stand-off. China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the Munich conference that the P5+1 should remain patient and keep pursuing a diplomatic solution to the issue. "The parties concerned should, with the overall and long-term interests in mind, step up diplomatic efforts, stay patient and adopt a more flexible, pragmatic and proactive policy," he said. "The purpose is to seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper solution through dialogue and negotiations."

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Tags: China   nuclear   Iran  

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