Iran Rejects Bulk Uranium Transfer in Statement to IAEA

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"Iran, which has insisted its nuclear program has no military component, restated a counteroffer already ruled out by the West. . ."

Iran indicated in a memorandum to the IAEA that it would not rapidly ship a large portion of its low-enriched uranium to other countries for further refinement—a crucial part of an agency plan to defer its ability to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon, diplomats told Reuters yesterday.

The statement was Iran's most definitive statement of opposition to the IAEA proposal, which called for France and Russia to help prepare 70% of the nation's stockpiled uranium for use at a Tehran medical research reactor.

Iran, which has insisted its nuclear program has no military component, restated a counteroffer already ruled out by the West; it recently expressed willingness to give up small quantities of its low-enriched uranium at a time in simultaneous exchanges for pre-enriched medical reactor fuel.

Meanwhile, planned adjustments to a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program could aid in efforts to impose additional U.N. Security Council sanctions on Tehran, according to Reuters. The assessment concluded with "high confidence" that Iran had suspended nuclear weapons research in 2003 and asserted with "moderate confidence" that the work remained suspended as of mid-2007.

Intelligence agencies are expected to reverse that finding, at least relative to Iranian nuclear-weapon research.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday called for new economic penalties aimed at pressuring Iran to seek a resolution to the nuclear dispute, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We believe that financial sanctions. . .have an important role to play in exerting pressure at the appropriate points in the (Iranian) regime and not affecting the Iranian people," Miliband told legislators

Tehran yesterday hinted that a strike on its nuclear sites could prompt an Iranian retaliation against U.S. and allied military vessels in the Persian Gulf, AFP reported.

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