Iran is offering a one-time exchange of nuclear fuel in an apparent effort to move closer to the conditions of a plan brokered last year by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency.
In an interview published Tuesday in the Iranian newspaper Javan, Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran is ready to deliver 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in exchange for 120 kilograms of higher-enriched uranium to fuel a medical research reactor. He said Iran had earlier proposed delivering its low-enriched uranium only gradually, in 400-kilogram batches.
However, Salehi said Tehran wants the exchange to take place simultaneously on Iranian soil -- an idea previously rejected by the Western nations involved in talks over Iran's nuclear program.
Under the terms of the deal brokered last October by the IAEA, Iran could exchange low-enriched uranium with Russia and France for nuclear fuel for its medical research reactor.
Iran has refused to accept the deal.
Britain, the United States and their allies have been pressing the U.N. Security Council to impose new sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear program. The Western nations believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
China is the only one of the Security Council's five veto-wielding permanent members that has not expressed an interest in additional sanctions against Iran.
Beijing's new U.N. ambassador reiterated that stance Wednesday, in his first news conference since assuming the post.
Ambassador He Yafei said China does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons but that sanctions usually do not work because they target and harm ordinary people.