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Russia Says No Final Answer Yet From Iran On Fuel Deal

Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Iran would respond to a change in big powers' behavior.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia said today that Iran had still not given its final answer to the international community on a proposal to send enriched uranium abroad for reprocessing.

"As far as we know, there has so far been no final official answer from Tehran," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement.

"There is currently no discussion on working out additional sanctions against Iran."

Iran on November 18 rejected a deal to send enriched uranium abroad for rendering into fuel for medical purposes in Tehran, defying world powers which regarded the offer as a way to delay Iran's potential ability to make atomic bombs by at least a year by divesting the country of most of its refined uranium stock.

Under the plan brokered by the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran would ship some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be converted into fuel plates for a Tehran reactor that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

In apparent response to comments by U.S. President Barack Obama about Iran's actions having "consequences," Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad reiterated in a speech in Tabriz that Iran would respond positively to a change in the big powers' policy.

"I am speaking to the world powers: Those who say they want to have a constructive interaction should know that if the Iranian nation sees a practical change in their behavior and that they have given up their aggressive attitude and honestly raised a hand to Iran, then we would accept it," he said.

"But if we find they are still continuing their past domineering and hostile policies...then the response of the Iranian national would be as firm as in the past."

During a visit to the Philippines, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki shrugged off the possibility of further sanctions. "Sanction was the literature of the 60s and 70s," he told a news conference in Manila.

"I think they are wise enough not to repeat failed experiences," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "Of course, it's totally up to them."

Mottaki said the Islamic republic was willing to discuss the reactor fuel deal but only if the swap of enriched uranium for the fuel took place within Iran.

"Iran raises its readiness in order to have further talks within the framework which is presented," he said. "It's not our proposal to have a swap. They raised such a proposal and we described and talked about how it could be operationalized."