Ahmadinejad Backs Nuke Deal—in Some Form

But Iran won't retreat 'even an iota' on right to program
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 29, 2009 6:36 AM CDT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens during a press conference in New York, Friday Sept. 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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(Newser) – Iran will not give up its nuclear program but is ready to cooperate with the West, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech today. It's Western powers that have moved, he said in a speech on state television, “from confrontation to interaction” with Iran on the nuclear issue so that “ground has been paved for nuclear cooperation.” Ahmadinejad's remarks appear to reinforce Iran's support for the general outline of a UN-drafted nuclear deal, but he insisted his government "will not retreat even an iota" over the nation's right to pursue a nuclear program.

Iran has promised to reveal today whether it accepts the UN plan, hammered out with world powers last week in Vienna, to ship out 70% of its enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment. From there, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods for return to Iran for use in a Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes. Iran has signaled that it wants changes in the deal, which may include shipping the material in small batches, but Western powers say it's critical for Iran to send out 70% of its uranium store in one load to eliminate—at least temporarily—its options to make a nuclear weapon.