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Iran agrees to ship nuclear material to Turkey in new deal

Turkish, Brazilian and Iranian leaders and their foreign ministers celebrate in Tehran
Turkish, Brazilian, and Iranian officials celebrated the deal after 18 hours of negotiations.  Photo: AFP

On Monday, Tehran agreed to a nuclear deal in which it will ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey.  The deal, brokered by  Brazil and Turkey, will ease international tensions over Iran's nuclear intentions, as well as essentially put an end to the US-led psh for tougher sanctions against Tehran.

In the negotiations, Iran dropped several key demands that had previously blocked agreement.  The current deal is similar to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept.

In return for agreeing to ship most of its uranium stockpile abroad, it would receive fuel rods of medium-enriched uranium to use in a Tehran medical research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.

As of yet, the US has not commented on the agreement.  Officials from both Great Britain and Germany said that they greet this news with caution, and both asserted that their countries still supported tougher sanctions on Iran.

Iran's Foreign Ministers spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran will continue to enrich uranium to higher level despite the deal reached Monday.  He was quoted by the official news agency IRNA as saying that "Of course, enrichment of uranium to 20 percent will continue inside Iran".

Monday's deal was announced after talks between Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.  Washington has continued to point to Iran's intransigence against the original deal as proof of the need for new U.N. sanctions.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the new deal meant Iran was willing to "open a constructive road."

"There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure," he told reporters in Iran, according to Turkey's private NTV television.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Iran will ship most of its enriched uranium, which is estimated at about 2,600 pounds or 1,200 kilograms, to Turkey to be kept under U.N. and Iranian supervision.

Mehmanparast said a letter will be sent to the IAEA within a week to pave the way for a final agreement.

"Should they be ready, an agreement will be signed between us and the group," he said, referring to the U.S., France, Russia and the IAEA.

Under the deal, within a month, Iran will begin shipping uraninum enriched to 3.5% to Turkey where it will be stored under IAEA and Iranian supervision.  It should be noted that enrichment of 90 percent is needed to produce material for nuclear warheads.

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