Iran has tentatively agreed to a proposal by world powers to transfer a large part its uranium stockpile to Russia as part of a permanent agreement on its nuclear program, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
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According to the report, Russia would convert the enriched uranium into fuel rods for the Islamic Republic's reactor in Bushehr, thus ensuring it could not be used for manufacturing nuclear weapons.
Iran is in posession of approximately ten tons of uranium enriched to 5 percent. Eliminating the stockpile or removing it from the country is one of the core issues of negotiations.
"If the Iran-Russia deal works, it could be the cornerstone of something much larger,” an American official involved in the talks with Iran told the New York Times.
Though the Ukraine crisis has created tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the two countries continue to cooperate on Iran. "It is accurate to say that the Russians have played a very helpful role during these negotiations,” a senior official at the National Security Council told the New York Times.
He added that Russia has worked together with the five other powers in the negotiations with Iran, and :put forward creative and reasonable ideas that preserve our objective of cutting off any possible pathway Iran might have to a nuclear weapon.”
The official added however that it is unclear whether Iran will accept the "reasonable proposals" or continue to present excessive demands that have little to do with the practical needs of its nuclear program.
Tripartite summit in Oman
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU’s envoy to the nuclear negotiations, Catherine Ashton, will hold a tripartite summit next Sunday in Muscat, Oman, in an attempt to make a breakthrough leading to a permanent agreement on the Iranian nuclear program by the official deadline of November 24.
The previous rounds of negotiations between Iran and the world powers in the last year were all held in Geneva or Vienna, but, irregularly, this summit will be held in Oman. Sultan Qaboos of Oman previously hosted the secret talks between the United States and Iran that led to the resumption of official talks and the breakthrough that brought about the interim deal, after which Iran froze major parts of its nuclear program.
The tripartite summit in Oman will last two days, on November 9-10. Michael Mann, Ashton’s spokesman, said that Ashton will meet in Vienna on Friday with the heads of the negotiating teams of the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – for preparatory talks and coordination ahead of the summit.