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Critics of Iran should get rid of own nukes: Turkish PM

Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:45:48 AM, Marco Sibaja, AP

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan is welcomed by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday. (Photo: EPA)

Rio De Janeiro: Nations criticizing an Iranian nuclear fuel-swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey should eliminate their own nuclear weapon stockpiles, Turkey's leader said Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments just hours after claiming that the West was “envious” of Brazil and Turkey's achievement in getting Iran to agree to the deal.

US officials have criticized the agreement, in part because it does not stop Iran from continuing to enrich uranium. The US also says the deal is a ploy by Iran to delay new international sanctions.

“Those who speak to this issue should eliminate nuclear weapons from their own country and they should bear the good news to all mankind by doing that,” Erdogan said while attending a UN conference in Rio de Janeiro.

His comments were aimed at the US and its massive nuclear stockpile.

On Thursday, he remarked that “Those who criticize the accord are envious.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington on Thursday that the US has “very serious disagreements with Brazil's diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran.”

“We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous, not less,” Clinton said during a talk at the Brookings Institution. “They have a different perspective on what they see they're doing.”

Clinton said one of the US government's main concern is that despite the fuel-swap deal, Iran is insisting on continuing to enrich uranium at a high level.

Both Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva say they do not see the nuclear fuel-swap deal as a solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, but as a starting point to get Iran back to the negotiations.

Under the deal, submitted this week to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran agrees to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of uranium to Turkey, where it will be stored. In exchange, Iran would get fuel rods made from 20-percent enriched uranium; that level of enrichment is high enough for use in research reactors but too low for nuclear weapons.

Among concerns by opponents of the deal is that Iran has continued to churn out low-enriched material and is running a pilot program of enriching to higher levels, near 20 percent.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters in Rio the fuel swap deal contains all the elements that the US and other nations were seeking in similar agreement last year.

“We are not defenders of Iran. We are trying to help peace,” Amorim said. “The agreement contains all that which was proposed by the Group of Vienna, especially by Russia, the United States and France, and now we need time to see if it will bear results.”

Silva said that the deal was meant to resolve “a conflict that threatens much more than the stability of an important region of the planet.”

“The world needs a peaceful Middle East.” Last month, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new arms-control treaty that would limit each country's stockpile of nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current level of 2,200 — bringing the arsenals to a level last seen in the 1950s. It replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, which expired in December.

The treaty must be ratified by both the Russian Parliament and the US Congress.






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