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. US rejects Iranian proposal for Russian help in uranium conversion
WASHINGTON (AFP) May 21, 2005
US officials on Friday rejected an idea it says Iran proposed to convert uranium 'yellowcake' into gas with Russian aid.

"There is apparently an Iranian idea like this that they have floated with the Russians. Let me point out a couple of things," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"First of all, Russia has already agreed to provide at least the first decade's worth of enriched uranium fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr," he said. "So Iran would have no need to do any conversion work whatsoever."

Teheran's proposal "only reinforces our view that Iran's enrichment and conversion effort is, in fact, designed to contribute to the capabilities that are needed to develop nuclear weapons."

Boucher said that European Union members France, Germany and Britain -- who are in talks with Iran -- as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russia and the United States "have all agreed that Iran should not be allowed to develop the capabilities necessary to make nuclear weapons."

Iran agreed in November to suspend its uranium conversion and enrichment activities, which Washington believes conceals its nuclear armament intentions.

Boucher spoke ahead of a key meeting next week of the so-called EU-3 with Iran on the future of its nuclear program. The meeting may be held Wednesday in Geneva.

"The agreement that Europeans have already with Iran is quite clear on suspension of all conversion -- and enrichment-related activities, and we would expect that to be respected," he said.

Washington on Thursday welcomed European efforts to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, but will set a high bar to verify Iran's compliance, according to State Department under secretary for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, speaking in congressional testimony.

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