TEHRAN - Influential Iranian lawmakers on Saturday criticised a U.N.-drafted agreement that requires Tehran to send its atomic stockpile abroad for further processing, the student news agency ISNA reported.
Their comments were reported a day after Iran missed a deadline for responding to the International Atomic Energy Agency on the deal, which requires it to cut an atomic stockpile the West fears could be used to make weapons.
Iran said its answer would be given next week.
Iran needs its 3.5 percent enriched uranium for use in our power stations. Consequently it is in Iran's interest to buy nuclear fuel, said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament's National Security and Foreign Affairs committee, quoted by ISNA.
Iran, which says its nuclear energy program is only for producing electricity, is years away from having any nuclear power plants that would use low enriched uranium (LEU).
The agreement requires Iran to send 1.2 tons of its known 1.5-tonne stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France by the end of the year, Western diplomats say.
There it would be further processed, in a way that would make it hard to use for warheads, and returned to Iran as fuel plates to power a Tehran reactor that makes radioactive medical isotopes but is due to run out of its imported fuel in a year.
Boroujerdi echoed some officials who suggested on Friday that instead of accepting the draft, Iran should buy nuclear fuel from abroad. He said Iran should be cautious in its dealings with world powers.
Russia, France and the United States, the other parties to the deal, have endorsed the plan.
Another leading lawmaker said any nuclear deal with world powers should be accompanied by the scrapping of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.
Any nuclear fuel deal with the West...should come with relinquishment of sanctions on Iran, particularly a lifting of sanctions on raw uranium imports, said lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
Buying enriched uranium abroad would not only fail to reduce the domestic stockpile worrying the international community, but also require sanctions imposed on Iran since 2006 to be waived to allow it to import such sensitive nuclear material.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters, including nuclear issue, has so far remained silent over the deal.
Iran's IAEA representative said a team of U.N. nuclear monitors was scheduled to visit for the first time Iran's newly disclosed second uranium enrichment plant on Sunday, state television reported.
Inspectors of the IAEA will arrive in Tehran on Sunday for a routine visit of the site, state television quoted Soltanieh as saying.
Iran added to concerns over its nuclear intentions in September by revealing the existence of the site in central Iran.
(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari, Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Angus MacSwan)