White House Keeps Sanctions on Table After Iran Announces Nuclear Fuel Deal

The White House said Monday that it would continue to pursue sanctions against Iran after the country went around the United States to strike a nuclear fuel swap deal similar to the Western-backed plan that fell apart last fall.

Iran is trying to avoid sanctions after it rejected a deal with the U.S., Russia, France and the International Atomic Energy Agency in October. The latest move puts the Obama administration in check in the ongoing nuclear chess match by giving nations reluctant to support sanctions a potential excuse to support Iran.

But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a skeptical view of the announcement Monday and said that while the fuel swap could be a “positive sign,” the administration is pressing ahead with sanctions.

“It does not change the steps that we are taking to hold Iran responsible for its obligation … including sanctions,” Gibbs said. “We are making steady progress on a sanctions resolution.”

The latest deal was brokered by Turkey and Brazil. Under the terms of the proposal, Iran would ship about 2,600 pounds of enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel rods. Those rods would be enriched to a level strong enough for a research reactor but not a warhead.

In a sense, Iran left the Obama administration an out by declaring it would continue producing 20 percent enrichment uranium even as it proposes shipping nuclear material to Turkey. To become official, the deal still has to be agreed to … >>>

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