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Iran ready to discuss halting 20 percent enrichment if needs met: FM


Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said that Iran is ready to negotiate over its production of nuclear fuel enriched to a purity of 20 percent if its needs for fuel for several planned reactors producing medical isotopes are fully met.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (file photo)

"Iran is ready to talk about the 20 percent issue, but, of course, it should be reciprocated properly," Salehi stated during an interview with Reuters in Abu Dhabi.

The 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), which is in talks with Iran over the country's nuclear program, has proposed that 20 percent enrichment be halted, the Fordo uranium enrichment facility be closed, and 20 percent enriched uranium be shipped out of the country.

Senior diplomats from the EU and Iran will meet in Istanbul on July 24 for technical talks meant to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear activities.

Salehi stated that Iran was fully committed to resolving the nuclear issue but that world powers had deviated from understandings made at the first of three rounds of negotiations between Tehran and world powers this year, which was held in Baghdad on May 23 and 24.

"For some reason whenever there is light at the end of the tunnel, somebody tries to cover up even that dim light," he said, adding, "The continuation of this (deadlock)... is not in the interest of the international community, not in the interests of my country and not in the interest of the region."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Salehi denied accusations that Iran's Parchin military site, which is located southeast of Tehran, had been cleansed of atomic material caused by alleged nuclear explosives tests.

Nuclear inspectors would be able to confirm this when the time came to visit that site again, he said, but did not specify when Iran would allow that to happen.

Salehi, who earned his doctorate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a former Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said granting the UN nuclear watchdog access to the Parchin site depended on when Iran managed to conclude a broader agreement with the IAEA.

During the interview, Salehi also commented on the fact that a number of Iranian officials have threatened that the Islamic Republic would block the Strait of Hormuz in response to the European Union's oil embargo on Iran that took effect on July 1.

"Probably those who have suggested this idea have in mind that if Iran is denied access to the Persian Gulf for whatever reason... then Iran will probably react appropriately," he said.

"But I don't think such a time will ever come," Salehi added.

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