Iran Agrees “In Principle” to Brazilian Mediation

The Iranian president has reportedly agreed “in principle” to Brazilian mediation in the stalled United Nations-backed nuclear fuel swap deal, which was first offered to Iran in October. Iran had initially agreed to the deal, but when Iran’s representative went back to Iran with the news, Iran said it would agree to the deal on a conditional basis: The swap had to take place on Iranian soil and Iran would send out its LEU for reprocessing in smaller doses than the UN-back plan called for. The original plan would have required Iran to send almost 80 percent of its total LEU to Russia for enrichment to the 20 percent level and then to France, for conversion of the enriched uranium into fuel rods to be used in Iran’s for medical and scientific purposes.

A statement issued today by the Iranian president’s office said that President Ahmadinejad spoke about Brazil’s offer of mediation during a conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez–a friend of Iran’s–yesterday.

Brazil has previously called on the international community to show flexibility on the deal. This comes as the West is pressuring for a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

In the past, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said his country would not give up its right under the NPT to enrich uranium. In an interview aired Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said pressure or threats from other countries would not force Iran to change its position. Tehran maintains that it’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but many Western nations remain unconvinced.

Negotiations come a few weeks after the U.S. and Russia agreed to scale back their nuclear weapons caches. In an attempt to be more transparent about its own nuclear program, the Obama administration announced it has 5,113 nuclear warheads.

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