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US offered uranium enrichment, reprocessing to Iran: documents

Islamabad, Nov 1, Kyodo/OANA/IRNA -- The United States offered uranium enrichment and reprocessing plant facilities to Iran in the mid-1970s if it bought nuclear power plants from US companies, invested in an enrichment plant in United States and shared plutonium reprocessing plant with Pakistan, recently declassified US documents reveal.

The documents were found on the website of the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Two documents in particular, dated April 22, 1975 and April 20, 1976, show that the United States and Iran held negotiations for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the United States was willing to help Iran by setting up uranium enrichment and fuel reprocessing facilities.

The negotiations started in the wake of the nuclear test by India, and at a time when Pakistan was holding negotiations with France for the setting up of a reprocessing plant, which was opposed by United States.

The memoranda were written to convey guidelines from then President Gerald Ford to the US negotiating team about the proposed agreement.

Under the proposed arrangement, Iran was to invest in a uranium enrichment plant in United States to supply fuel or nuclear material for US-supplied reactors and expended fuel was to be reprocessed in a reprocessing plant in Iran.

Nuclear power plants use three percent to five percent enriched uranium as fuel, but when expended fuel is reprocessed in a reprocessing plant it yields plutonium, which could be used in nuclear weapons.

Similarly, uranium enriched up to 90 percent could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

The first memorandum, titled 'US-Iran nuclear cooperation', said the Iranian share in the enriched uranium fuel should be based on the approximate number of reactors planned to be purchased from US suppliers and proposed investment in the enrichment facility.

Iran would have been entitled to dispose off its surplus share by exporting to an 'appropriate third country'.

It said the United States 'should approve' the reprocessing of US material in a multinational plant in Iran if the country supplying the reprocessing technology or equipment 'is a full and active participant in the plant'.

The second memorandum, dated April 20, 1976 and written on the eve of Iran-US negotiations on nuclear cooperation, said the president wanted to convey to the Iranians that the proposed facility 'should serve mutual US-GOI (Government of Iran) non-proliferation in the region' by offering Pakistan the possibility of participation in a multinational plant as an alternative to a national reprocessing facility.

Pakistan had already signed a trilateral agreement with France and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency in March 1976 for the supply of a reprocessing plant, but the deal was opposed by the United States on the ground that it could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

In August 1976, then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger visited Pakistan in a final bid to persuade it to give up the reprocessing plant deal.

It is not known if Kissinger discussed the idea of a multinational or bi-national reprocessing plant in Iran with then Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but he is known to have offered 100 aircraft to Pakistan to bolster security against India.

... Payvand News - 11/1/04 ... --

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