2012-04-09 / World

Ahead of nuclear talks, Iran floats compromise

BY NASSER KARIMI The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran

Iran’s nuclear chief signaled Tehran’s envoys may bring a compromise offer to the talks this week with world powers: Promising to eventually stop producing its most highly enriched uranium, while not totally abandoning its ability to make nuclear fuel.

The proposal outlined late Sunday seeks to directly address one of the potential main issues in the talks scheduled to begin Friday between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany.

The U.S. and others have raised serious concerns about Iran’s production and stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could be turned into weapons-grade strength in a matter of months.

But the proposal described by Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, may not go far enough to satisfy the West because it would leave the higher enriched uranium still in Tehran’s hands rather than transferred outside the country.

Abbasi said Tehran could stop its production of 20 percent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, and continue enriching uranium to lower levels for power generation.

This could take place once Iran has stockpiled enough of the 20 percent enriched uranium, Abbasi told state TV. The 20 percent enriched material can be used for medical research and treatments.

The enrichment issue lies at the core of the dispute between Iran and the West, which fears Tehran is seeking an atomic weapon — a charge the country denies, insisting its uranium program is for peaceful purposes only.

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