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. EU's Solana calls for external nuclear fuel supply for Iran
BRUSSELS, Jan 30 (AFP) Jan 30, 2008
An international "fuel bank" should be set up to provide countries like Iran with nuclear fuel for civilian purposes so they don't have to enrich uranium themselves, the EU's Javier Solana said Wednesday.

"Beyond Iran itself, in a world where there is an increasing interest in nuclear power, we need to find ways of ensuring countries they can obtain nuclear fuel without having to carry out their own enrichment," Solana told the European parliament in Brussels.

"I strongly support myself the idea of the creation of an international fuel supply assurance that (would) have the form of a fuel bank," the EU's foreign policy chief continued during a speech on Iran.

Solana made a similar call in November for the creation of an "international enrichment centre" which he said could help resolve nuclear disputes.

At the time he said all states would thus have access to enriched fuel under fair conditions and at competitive prices.

He said Wednesday he could not be sure whether Iran's controversial nuclear programme had purely peaceful intent, amid concern that the Islamic republic could try to develop an atomic bomb.

A defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Tehran was close to its target of producing nuclear energy.

Iran has been slapped with two sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment and a third package is currently being considered by the Security Council.

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