Iran 'to go ahead' with Turkey atom fuel swap

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Iran intends to go ahead with a deal reached with Turkey and Brazil for a nuclear fuel swap despite a new sanctions resolution against Tehran pending at the United Nations, an Iranian parliamentarian said today.

"Iran is committed to the vows that it made and wants to make them operational and will submit its letter to International Atomic Energy Agency," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament's Foreign Affairs and National Security Committee, was quoted as saying by semi-official news agency ISNA.

"The Americans' propaganda will not have any effect on Iran's decision ... We advise those countries who want to issue this resolution against Iran not to be manipulated by America."

Iran's official news agency IRNA said yesterday that Iran will hand an official letter to the IAEA's chief on Monday with details of the fuel swap agreement with Brazil and Turkey.

The IAEA brokered the basis of the deal last October in talks involving Iran, France, Russia and the United States, but it soon unravelled amid Iranian demands for amendments.

Turkish and Brazilian representatives at the IAEA will accompany Iran's envoy during the meeting with the IAEA chief on Monday, a communique from Iran's Supreme National Security Council published today in the daily Hambastegi said.

Leaders of the three countries announced the agreement last Monday under which Iran will send 1,200 kg of its enriched uranium stocks - reducing its supply of potential atomic bomb material - to Turkey in exchange for fuel rods for a Tehran medical research reactor.

But the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, after months of negotiations, brushed off the deal with a draft resolution on a new set of sanctions against Iran that Washington handed to the Security Council on Tuesday.

A prominent Iranian lawmaker, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, had suggested on Thursday Iran could scuttle the deal if the sanctions resolution is approved.

Western powers fear that Iran is secretly trying to produce nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies this and says it is enriching uranium only to produce fuel for nuclear power stations.

Under last week's surprise agreement, the first batch of Iran's uranium would arrive in Turkey within a month, in return for fuel rods to keep a Tehran medical research reactor running.

Turkey and Brazil - both currently non-permanent members of the Security Council - and Iran have urged a halt to talk of further sanctions because of the deal, but Western powers suspect it is an Iranian tactic to avert or delay sanctions.

The new, extended sanctions would target Iranian banks and call for inspection of vessels suspected of carrying cargo related to Iran's nuclear or missile programmes.