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October 23, 2009

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Iran lawmaker rejects plan to ship uranium

IRAN'S deputy parliament speaker yesterday dismissed an internationally backed draft plan to have Tehran ship its uranium abroad for enrichment, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The remarks by Mohammad Reza Bahonar were the first reaction in Tehran on the proposal, presented on Wednesday after three days of talks between Iran and world powers in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

The plan is seen by the international community as a way to curb Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon.

Tehran is expected to decide today on whether to approve the plan that calls for shipping Iran's uranium to Russia for enrichment to a level that renders it suitable as nuclear fuel for energy production - not for nuclear weapons.

"The United States demanded Iran ship uranium abroad, in return for getting fuel back," Bahonar said, according to IRNA. "But Iran does not accept this."

Iran's parliament will not vote on the draft plan and Bahonar does not speak for the government, which is to decide on the matter.

There has been no response so far to the offer from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The proposal may meet resistance by some Iranian leaders because it weakens Iran's control over its stockpiles of nuclear fuel and could be perceived as a concession to the United States, which took part in the Vienna talks with France and Russia.


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