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Turkey Says It's Willing To Store Uranium From Iran

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
ANKARA (Reuters) -- Turkey would be willing to store enriched uranium from Iran, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said today, responding to a United Nations suggestion that Iran send its low-grade enriched uranium to a third country.

Officials from Turkey and Iran, which have friendly relations, have discussed the idea of Tehran sending its uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel to keep a nuclear medical facility running.

"There is no problem from the side of Turkey with Iran storing its low-grade uranium in Turkey. We cannot say no," Yildiz told reporters.

Addressing Iran's misgivings over sending low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad before it gets reactor fuel in return, the UN nuclear watchdog has suggested Iran place the LEU in a friendly third country like Turkey, pending arrival of the fuel.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held a telephone conversation with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhammad el-Baradei on November 12 to discuss the issue.

But a senior Iranian official has dismissed the idea of Iran parking its LEU in a third country.

The plan is designed to allay Western suspicions that the Islamic republic will try to use its enriched uranium to construct atomic weapons. Tehran denies this.

Tehran has yet to give a full, official reply on the proposal drafted by el-Baradei three weeks ago after consultations with Iran, France, Russia, and the United States.

The plan for the exchange of uranium for fuel has stumbled on Iranian calls for amendments and more talks, which the United States has rejected.

Turkey, which hosted Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad earlier this week for an Islamic economic conference, has said in the past it is willing to mediate between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear program.