JERUSALEM (JTA) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he is willing to export enriched uranium for further enrichment for use in a medical research reactor.
Ahmadinejad’s statement on state television — that sending the uranium to a European country for further enrichment is "no problem" — is an about-face after the Islamic Republic formally rejected a similar proposal brokered several weeks ago by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Under the plan, Iran would relinquish the bulk of the uranium it had enriched to low levels for further enrichment in Russia and then in France to medical research levels before it would be returned.
The process would take about eight months and effectively delay any plans to further enrich the uranium to bomb-making levels for that amount of time.
Iran rejected the plan in late December, calling instead for an immediate exchange on Iranian soil.
On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said on state television that "We have no problem sending our enriched uranium abroad. We say, ‘We will give you our 3.5 percent enriched uranium,’ and will get the fuel. It may take four to five months until we get the fuel."
Washington, according to reports, is skeptical that the comments are a way to delay new sanctions now being pushed in the U.N. Security Council by the United States, Britain, Germany and France, which just assumed the council’s presidency.