Gates skeptical of Iran nuke assertions

Feb. 6, 2010 at 12:50 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he's skeptical of Iranian assertions that Tehran is ready to reach a nuclear enrichment deal with the West.

Speaking Saturday in Ankara, Turkey, Gates downplayed comments made by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki that Iran was close to reaching a deal in which quantities of low-enriched uranium would be shipped abroad and further enriched for use in a medical research reactor, The Washington Post reported.

"The reality is that they have done nothing to reassure the international community that they are prepared to ... stop their progress toward making a nuclear weapon," Gates told the Post.

The newspaper said other U.S. and European officials have voiced similar doubt about Mottaki's assertions, calling them nothing but a bid to buy time while it continues to attempt to build a nuclear arsenal.

Mottaki, speaking Friday at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, said Iran is nearing agreement on a United Nations request to have Iran send its low-enriched uranium abroad to be further enriched for use in a medical research reactor, The New York Times reported.

"We are approaching a final agreement that can be accepted by all parties," Mottaki said. "I personally believe we have created conducive ground for such an exchange in the not very distant future."

Mottaki said Iran must be allowed to decide how much uranium would be enriched, a demand that might not be approved by the United States and other governments, the newspaper said.

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