(JTA) — Iran has agreed to ship some of its uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel exchange.
Iran will swap more than 2,600 pounds of low-enriched uranium in exchange for higher-enriched uranium in order to power a medical research reactor. The uranium will be enriched to about 20 percent and available in about a year. Ninety percent is needed for a nuclear weapon.
The amount of uranium Iran has agreed to send to Turkey equals about half of its uranium stockpile, The New York Times reported, citing an unnamed Western diplomat.
The deal announced Monday came following a meeting in Tehran of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to news reports.
Iran reportedly will ship its uranium to Turkey within a month.
The White House expressed its continued concern in a statement released Monday afternoon.
"Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns," read the statement, issued by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The deal is similar to one proposed several months ago by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that would have seen Iran exporting the majority of its low-enriched uranium to be further enriched and made into fuel rods in two European countries. Iran had insisted then and for the last several months that the exchange take place in the Islamic Republic.
Following Monday’s signing of the deal, Ahmadinejad called on the world powers to set up new talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
"Following the signing of the nuclear fuel swap deal, it is time for 5+1 countries to enter talks with Iran based on honesty, justice and mutual respect," Ahmadinejad said, referring to six world powers — permanent U.N. Security Council members the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, as well as Germany.
Turkey and Brazil, which currently sits on the Security Council, had offered to mediate with Iran, according to reports. Iran appears to be trying to avoid tougher U.N. sanctions for its refusal to completely halt its nuclear program.