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China needs no Saudi prodding on how to deal with Iran: FM
by Staff Writers
Riyadh (AFP) Feb 15, 2010

US joins France, Russia in denying new Iran nuclear offer
Washington (AFP) Feb 15, 2010 - The United States joined France and Russia on Monday in denying an assertion by Iran that it had been offered a new nuclear proposal from the three major powers. "There is no new proposal on the table," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said, responding to claims from the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi told news agencies that France, Russia and the United States had made the offer in response to Tehran's announcement last week that it had begun enriching uranium to a higher 20 percent level. But Hammer, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, dismissed the claim and urged Iran to work with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on an existing proposal aimed at defusing the crisis. Under the proposal drafted by the UN watchdog and backed by the major powers, Iran would ship out most of its stocks of low enriched uranium in return for receiving fuel for the Tehran reactor from France and Russia. "The door remains open for Iran to accept the practical, fair, and responsible proposal put forth by the IAEA last fall that would enable Iran to meet its medical humanitarian needs as well as build international confidence in Iranian intentions," said Hammer. "Iran should engage directly with the IAEA."

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Monday after talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that China needs no prodding from Riyadh over how to deal with Iran in the UN Security Council.

The Chinese "carry their responsiblity" as one of the major world powers and "they need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do," Prince Saud said at a joint news conference with Clinton.

He was questioned about suggestions that Saudi Arabia could provide oil supply guarantees to China to win Beijing's support for sanctions as sought by Washington against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Prince Saud that "sanctions are a long-term solution" but "we see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat."

Iran says new nuclear offer on table, drawing denials
Tehran (AFP) Feb 15, 2010 - Iran said on Monday it was considering a new proposal from the major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel but the United States, France and Russia all denied any such offer had been made.

The head of Iran's atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told domestic news agencies the new proposal had come in response to Iran's move last week to begin enriching uranium itself to the 20 percent level required for a Tehran medical research rector after rejecting a previous offer.

"After the decision by Iran to produce its own uranium enriched to 20 percent, France, Russia and the United States presented a new proposal which we are in the process of considering," ILNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying.

"I am not going to unveil the contents of this proposal," he told Fars news agency.

France, which was to have provided the fuel for the Tehran reactor under the original deal using enriched uranium provided by Russia, and the United States denied any new proposal was on the table.

"Mr Salehi ought to know the only offer is the one which was proposed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in October, and which has so far not received a satisfactory response," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

White House spokesman Mike Hammer said "there is no new proposal on the table," while the foreign ministry in Moscow joined in the denials.

"Russia, the United States and France have merely confirmed their support of the proposals agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency over the enrichment abroad of Iranium nuclear fuel to 20 percent," a ministry source said.

Under the proposal drafted by the UN watchdog and backed by the major powers, Iran would ship out most of its stocks of low enriched uranium in return for receiving fuel for the Tehran reactor from France and Russia.

Western governments have been pushing for Iran to ship out all of the low enriched uranium before receiving any fuel.

Iran has insisted it should only send out the uranium as it receives the fuel and has demanded the exchange happen on its own soil.

Salehi said that "various countries have contacted Iran with ideas for the exchange of uranium for fuel and they are currently being considered."

The UN nuclear watchdog has proposed that as a compromise the fuel be swapped in a third country and Turkey, which has good relations with its Iranian neighbour, has offered to host the exchange.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was to hold talks in Tehran on Tuesday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that several months of efforts by Ankara to broker a compromise had yet to bear fruit.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Turkey could serve as the centre for the exchange of uranium ... but there is no agreement up until now," he told a press conference in Doha.

While in the Qatari capital, Erdogan held talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was on a Gulf tour aimed at drumming up support for tough new sanctions against Iran.

This month France holds the rotating chair of the UN Security Council and Paris officials said last week they plan to hold a vote on a tough new package of sanctions targeting Iran's oil-dominated economy.

Turkey insists the nuclear row should be resolved through dialogue, arguing economic sanctions or military action against Iran would have a damaging impact on the whole region.

On a visit to Moscow, meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to back tough sanctions.

"What is needed now is biting sanctions that have the power to influence the regime, bitter sanctions that have to hit, in a convincing way, the (Iranian) oil industry, imports, exports and refining," Netanyahu told reporters.

"The Russian president expressed a full understanding of the issues that concern us," he said after talks with Medvedev.


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