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Iranian nuclear fuel plan rejected

Clinton said the idea of swapping uranium for reactor fuel was a ploy to avoid sanctions.

BEIJING - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday rejected as inadequate an Iranian plan to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel and called the offer a "transparent ploy" to try to avoid new U.N. Security Council sanctions over its suspect nuclear program.

Speaking in the Chinese capital, Clinton said that the swap offer submitted Monday to the U.N. nuclear watchdog did not address international concerns about Iran's atomic ambitions and that the U.S.-led push for fresh Security Council penalties would continue.

"There are a number of deficiencies with it that do not answer the concerns of the international community," she told reporters after two days of intense strategic and economic talks with the Chinese that included lengthy discussions about Iran. For one, she noted that despite the offer, Tehran was insisting on continuing to enrich uranium at a high level.

The swap offer was negotiated last week by Brazil and Turkey, which are opposed to new U.N. sanctions on Iran. A day later, the United States announced that it had won agreement from the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany on a draft resolution that would hit Iran with a fourth round of penalties.

Clinton dismissed Iran's decision to accept Brazilian-Turkish mediation as a last-ditch attempt to avoid Security Council action that it knew was coming. She said traditional sanctions opponents such as Russia and China saw the move in the same light.

Tehran had no official comment, but Iranian state television called Clinton's remarks "hasty."

In Washington, the two U.S. lawmakers leading efforts to craft an Iran sanctions bill said that they would delay passage of their legislation in light of the progress made at the United Nations.

They had intended to send a sanctions measure to President Obama by the end of May, despite the administration's preference that they wait until after the United Nations and European Union adopt sanctions.

"We believe that our overriding goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is best served by providing a limited amount of time" for the United Nations to complete its work and for the EU to take action on Iran at its mid-June summit, said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D., Conn.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D., Calif.) in a joint statement.

Iran Releases Noted Filmmaker

Iran released an internationally renowned filmmaker and opposition supporter

on bail Tuesday after more than two months in custody, state television reported.

Jafar Panahi, who has won awards at the Chicago, Cannes, and Berlin Film Festivals, was freed on bail of about $200,000, but

the report said his indictment would be sent to a revolutionary court for future action.

The decision came about a week after the filmmaker, 49, began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. He also demanded to be allowed to see his family, meet with a lawyer, and be set free pending trial.

It was unclear what charges Panahi faces. Cases referred to revolutionary courts are usually security-related.

Panahi was taken into custody after Iranian security forces raided the filmmaker's Tehran home in early March.

A state prosecutor has said that Panahi's detention was not political and that the filmmaker was suspected of committing unspecified "offenses."

- Associated Press