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No proposal yet on Iran: Ivanov

Atul Aneja

Iran open to the possibility of uranium being enriched abroad

DUBAI: A senior Russian official who is visiting Iran has denied giving specific proposals to his hosts that would help defuse the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Igor Ivanov, visiting Russian special envoy, told Iranian television in Teheran that Russia had not issued any specific proposal.

Russian officials had earlier referred to a plan where Iran would be allowed to participate in processing uranium for export on Russian soil at a jointly owned facility.

The plan allows Iran to first convert uranium, on its territory, into uranium hexafluoride gas, and send it for enrichment to Russia.

Mr. Ivanov's denial has come in as a surprise as only a day earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Russia expected a quick response to its proposal.

Mr. Lavrov had pointed out that Moscow was negotiating with Europe, the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to find a way to end the standoff politically.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, who held talks with Mr. Ivanov during the day, later said Iran was not looking for new proposals, but in a change in attitude, which would recognise Iran's rights.

However, he said that Iran would consider any proposals in case they were put forward.

The Iranian English daily, Tehran Times, in a front-page report on Saturday, quoted Mr. Larijani as saying Iran wanted to conduct nuclear work on its territory, but was open to the possibility of uranium being enriched abroad for its needs.

The daily said Mr. Larijani made these observations after holding a meeting on Friday in Teheran with the non-aligned troika comprising of Malaysia, Cuba and South Africa.

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