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In phone call, U.S., Russian presidents discuss Iranian nuclear fuel request

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took the lead in developing the IAEA's plan for Iran's nuclear reactor fuel.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took the lead in developing the IAEA's plan for Iran's nuclear reactor fuel.
  • Obama thanked Medvedev for his role in IAEA's plan for Iran's nuclear reactors
  • Russia will enrich Iran's low-enriched uranium, but keep it below weapons-grade
  • France will fabricate uranium into metal rods and send them back to Iran
  • Presidents also discussed their nations' negotiations on nuclear weapons reductions

Washington (CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday discussed Iran's request for nuclear fuel for a research reactor and other security issues, the White House and the Kremlin said.

The White House said Obama in the phone conversation thanked Medvedev for Russia's leadership in developing the International Atomic Energy Agency's proposal responding to Iran's request for fuel for its research reactor. The plan calls for low-enriched uranium produced in Iran to be sent abroad for further enrichment and then returned for use in medical research and treatment.

"President Obama and President Medvedev affirmed their full support for this agreement and discussed the importance of all parties accepting the proposal so that implementation can begin as soon as possible," the White House said.

According to the plan, Iran will send its low-enriched uranium to Russia. Russia will then further enrich it, but keep it below weapons-grade, and send it to France. France will prepare the uranium for use in nuclear reactors by fabricating it into metal rods and send them to Iran, which will then use the rods in its nuclear reactors.

Obama also spoke by phone to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and thanked him for France's close cooperation in helping shape the Iranian research reactor agreement.

Delegations from Iran, France, Russia, the United States and the IAEA -- the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency -- met in Vienna last week to work out details of the tentative deal reached in early October. France, Russia and the United States indicated their approval of the arrangement.

Iran says it needs more time to decide whether to sign onto a deal that could help end the international showdown over its nuclear activities.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Saturday said Obama and Medvedev were also pleased with "the intensive dialogue" by their respective delegations in Geneva to come up with a new treaty on nuclear arms reduction. Russia and the United States are seeking to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires December 5.

In July, Medvedev and Obama signed a deal on parameters for negotiations to replace the treaty, with the goal of reducing nuclear weapons. Under that agreement, Russia and the United States will reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100.

The new numbers would be a reduction from the expiring Start treaty, which allowed 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.