Turkey, Brazil brokering Iran nuclear deal

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Turkey and Brazil are trying to revive a stalled atomic fuel deal with Iran in an attempt to help the Islamic Republic avoid new UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, Western diplomats said yesterday.

China and Russia — which reluctantly joined the United States, Britain, France and Germany in negotiating a draft resolution that would impose a fourth round of UN sanctions on Tehran — are ready to give the Brazilians and Turks the time they need to broker a deal, UN diplomats said.

Western diplomats made clear they were not happy about a development that will likely delay a UN sanctions vote in New York. Washington had hoped to have a final draft ready ahead of a May 3-28 meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but diplomats say negotiations could run into June at least.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomats said that nonpermanent Security Council members Brazil and Turkey had helped broker an Iranian counteroffer to a UN proposal to enable Iran to refuel an aging research reactor in Tehran that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

Under the original offer, Iran would have sent most of its enriched uranium stocks out of the country for up to year for further enrichment and processing in Russia and France. After agreeing in principle in October, Tehran balked at the offer.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki presented the Iranian counterproposal, which Western diplomats said was unlikely to be acceptable to them, during a meeting on Sunday with UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano.

Brazil and Turkey have already expressed their willingness to mediate in the standoff between Iran and the West over its nuclear programme. It was not immediately clear how long Russia and China were willing to give the two countries to revive the nuclear fuel deal.

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