Iran: We're ready for uranium exchange with 'fresh' countries
Japan shows interest in deal; Iran reports launch of new short-term missile production.
Iran is ready to conduct a uranium exchange deal with countries other than those involved in a United Nations-backed plan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday, according to the Fars news agency
"As we have reached no results yet with France, Russia and the United States over the uranium exchange plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head has asked other countries to get involved," Mehmanparast said.
"We will wait and see whether other countries would be capable to provide us with the required fuel," the spokesman added in a meeting with students at the Shahid Beheshti university in Tehran.
Japan is reportedly one of the countries interested to get engaged in the deal.
Last October, the IAEA brokered a deal under which Iran would exchange low-enriched uranium for foreign-made nuclear fuel that would power a medical-purpose reactor in Tehran.
Iran voiced readiness to either buy the fuel for the Tehran reactor or make it itself or export its low-enriched uranium (LEU) in return for processed fuel in line with the initial IAEA plan, as long as certain guarantees were put in place.
Iran however insists that the swap should be made on Iranian soil, and rejected any third country as a venue for the exchange which both the world powers and the IAEA have so far rejected.
Iran last month started the process of boosting its 3.5 per cent LEU to 20 percent - although experts say that the country did not yet have the capability to make actual fuel elements for the Tehran reactor.
"If the agreement is further delayed, then we will cover our needs by our own 20 percent enrichment process and the (IAEA brokered) exchange plan would have no meaning anymore," Mehmanparst said.
The spokesman once again reiterated that Iran's nuclear projects were solely for peaceful purposes and rejected Western charges of a secret military program.
He said that the Iranian progress in missiles' technology in the recent years should not be regarded by the world powers as a provocation as the Iranian defence potentials just deterrent aims.
The main Western - and especially Israeli - concern are the Iranian medium-range missiles Shahab and Sejil, as they would be able to hit any part of the Jewish state.
"If a country wants growth and development, then it should insist on its rights and not wait others to grant us these rights," the spokesman said while reiterating Iran's internationally acknowledged right to pursue a civil nuclear program.
Iran is ready to negotiate with the world powers over its nuclear programs and remove ambiguities but not, as demanded by the West and the United Nations Security Council, to suspend the uranium enrichment process.
Iran's atomic chief Ali-Akbar Salehi even proclaimed last month that in the new Persian year, which begins March 21, the country planned to build 10 new enrichment sites, followed by 10 more in the future.
Ealier Iranian official media reported that Iran launched production of a short-range, highly accurate missile capable of evading radar and destroying targets of 3,000 tons, official media reported.
Iran, embroiled in a row with the West over its nuclear program, often announces advances in its military capabilities in an apparent bid to show its readiness to counter any attack.
Iran began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992, under which it produces a large range of weapons, including tanks, medium range missiles, jet fighters and torpedoes.