BEIRUT — Iran's president on Wednesday called for international cooperation on nuclear technology in a prime-time television appearance filled with conciliatory language toward the world community, in stark contrast with the dismissive tone of other senior Iranian officials toward a United Nations-backed proposal.
Although President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not directly mention a U.S.-endorsed International Atomic Energy Agency plan in which Iran would trade the bulk of its enriched uranium for fuel to operate a Tehran medical reactor, he said Iran was confident and powerful enough to begin working with other countries and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency to expand the country's nuclear program.
"Today, Iran's nuclear conditions are stabilized and we've entered the phase of nuclear interaction and cooperation, and today an important issue is international nuclear cooperation in construction of nuclear power plants, reactors and even Iran's contribution to a world fuel bank," he said. "We have the necessary technology and material . . . but there is always quid pro quo, cooperation and investment."
The Obama administration, its European allies and international arms control authorities await a definitive response from Iran on whether it would send about 70% of its enriched uranium supply to Russia and France to be further refined and turned into rods for the medical reactor. The deal would temporarily allay international concerns that Iran could make a sprint toward developing a nuclear weapon, and possibly would set the stage for a broader compromise.