BRASILIA — Iran is open to negotiating a key condition that has stalled a deal over a swap of its enriched uranium and raised the specter of UN sanctions, its ambassador to Brazil said Friday.
Iran now stands ready to discuss its demand that the swap happen on its territory, ambassador Mohsen Shaterzadeh told a media conference in Brasilia.
While Tehran remained "firm" that any exchange of its uranium stocks for more highly enriched uranium from other countries be immediate, "a solution can be reached" on the condition that the swap happen on Iranian soil, he said.
The words appeared to signal a softening of Tehran's position in a standoff with Western powers over its controversial nuclear program.
They came as Iran multiplied contacts with UN Security Council members in an effort to split the body ahead of an expected vote on a resolution to impose further sanctions on Iran over the program.
Brazil, a temporary UN Security Council member, has backed Iran in the confrontation.
This week, though, Brasilia denied an Iranian report that it had made a concrete proposal for an alternative plan to break the impasse.
Brazil has said it is ready to host a nuclear fuel swap if asked by Tehran, but stressed no progress had been made on that idea.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is to travel to Iran at the end of next week to see his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Shaterzadeh said Tehran was "ready to move forward with this uranium swap operation, but the Western countries must show sincerity. If sincerity is seen, all this matter can be easily resolved."
The United States is leading the UN charge against Iran, accusing it of trying to build an atomic arsenal under the cover of its nuclear energy program.
It and allies Britain, France and Germany want Iran to give up its existing uranium stockpiles in exchange for uranium that is enriched to the level needed for civilian use -- but less than that required for military ends.
Initially, Iran agreed to that deal, which required the exchange to take place in another country, but then it backed away and demanded the swap happen on its soil.
- By Mohsen Shaterzadeh
- English News