Iran warming to Turkish role in nuke dispute

December 31, 2009, Thursday/ 16:39:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
Tehran has said it is ready to swap its low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel abroad, noting that Japan, Turkey, Brazil and Kish Island in the Persian Gulf have been proposed as locations for the exchange of fuel, but said nothing is certain yet.

Iran is ready for a “fuel swap in several stages and has said that this can be an opportunity for the two sides” to build confidence, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday, while insisting that the exchange should take place in several stages.

In Ankara, when reminded of Mehmanparast’s remarks in which he referred to Turkey, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Özügergin recalled on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been holding talks on the issue with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, as well as with US and other countries’ officials on a regular basis.

“That is to say, Turkey is completely in the picture and is in it in a way to intervene in the details as well,” Özügergin said at a regular press conference, without elaborating. Yet, he highlighted that the position of Turkey regarding this issue has not been “passive” but has been “active,” while also underlining that Turkish leadership, including President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as Davutoğlu, has been “in the picture.”

Özügergin also reiterated that Turkey firmly favors holding dialogue to resolve this issue, as he strongly indicated Turkey’s unwillingness to use military means or to impose sanctions on the neighboring country.

Less than a week ago, Mottaki said Iran is open to exchanging uranium on Turkish soil. “We are not opposed to carrying out the exchange of 400 kilos of uranium with 3.5 purity on Turkish soil or any other soil. But cooperation should be on both sides,” he was quoted as saying.

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