TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says that Iran’s nuclear achievements have startled Western countries.
Salehi made the remarks during a joint press conference with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Tehran on Tuesday in response to the fact that certain Western countries had downplayed Iran’s latest announcement about its nuclear progress.
On February 15, the Tehran reactor was loaded with domestically produced nuclear fuel plates during a ceremony held to unveil Iran’s latest nuclear achievements.
On the same day, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described the achievements as “not terribly new and not terribly impressive,” saying, “We frankly don’t see a lot new here. This is not big news. In fact it seems to have been hyped.”
During the press conference, Salehi said, “Now that we have succeeded in producing the fuel, they (the Westerners) are disparaging it. And if it is a small achievement, why did they not help provide us with the fuel and set conditions?”
On the sidelines of the Group of 15 summit, which was held in Tehran on May 17, 2010, Iran, Turkey, and Brazil issued a declaration, according to which Iran was to ship 1200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel to power the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.
But the United States and its allies rejected the deal, which Iran had offered as a goodwill gesture, and imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran in June 2010.
In response, Iran decided to produce 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel and convert it into plate type nuclear fuel and constructed an advanced plant at the Isfahan nuclear facility for manufacturing nuclear fuel plates. After the plant was inaugurated, Iran became one of the few countries with the capability to manufacture both nuclear fuel rods and nuclear fuel plates.
Another country besides Turkey may offer to host 5+1 talks
Asked about the venue for the next round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), which is expected to be held in the near future, Salehi reiterated that Turkey has agreed to host the negotiations.
“(But) another country may announce readiness to host the talks,” he added.
Salehi also expressed hope that a decision on the venue would be made by February 26.
Omani FM: I’m not here to mediate between Iran and U.S.
During the press conference, the Omani foreign minister vehemently rejected the news reports claiming that he had travelled to Tehran to mediate between Iran and the United States to help defuse the tension between the two countries.
Asked about Oman’s relationship with Israel, he said, “We have had and will have no relations with Israel.”