Iran nuclear deal still elusive

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, attending the Munich Security Conference has been upbeat about a fuel swap plan that could neutralise the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme.

But the United States and Germany continued to voice scepticism about Iran’s intentions.

Mottaki said he had a “very good meeting” with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

But no details have been agreed and the west remains worried Tehran is just buying time to further enrich nuclear material which could be used for a bomb.

Addressing the conference, US National Security Advisor James Jones warned: “Tehran must meet its responsibilities or face stronger sanctions and perhaps even deeper isolation. Hanging in the balance is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and greater proliferation concerns world-wide. I can think of no greater concern at the moment to our collective security”.

Coinciding with the security conference, Iran announced the opening of two new production plants to mass produce missiles designed to bring down helicopters and destroy tanks.

That came just three days after it test launched a rocket it said was capable of carrying a satellite.

Tehran’s ambitious space and military programmes, together with its nuclear ambitions, continue to worry Western countries.