(TEHRAN, Iran) — Iran’s top nuclear official has signaled that Iran could compromise on uranium enrichment by eventually only enriching to the low level needed for power.
Fereidoon Abbasi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, told state television on Sunday that Iran doesn’t need uranium enriched above the 20 percent level needed for the Tehran research reactor, which produces medical isotopes. Once there’s enough supply, he said, enrichment could be dropped to the 3.5 percent level needed for nuclear power (Weapons-grade uranium is more than 90 percent enriched).
“Based on our needs and once the required fuel is obtained, we will decrease the production and we may even totally shift it to the 3.5 percent,” Abbasi said, according to Iran’s Press TV.
“We are going to produce and store [20 percent enriched uranium] to some extent in order to provide fuel for Tehran’s [research] reactor for a few years or to predict fuel needs of another research reactor,” he said.
The comments come days before Iran begins a new round of talks on Saturday in Istanbul with the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany. The last round of talks fell apart in January 2011. Since then, the United States and European Union have imposed strict economic sanctions and an oil embargo on Iran.
The P5+1 nations are expected to ask for Iran to shut down the Fordow enrichment facility buried deep under a mountain as well as to stop production and ship out uranium enriched to 20 percent, according to a report in The New York Times.
But comments Monday by Iran’s foreign minister raised doubts over any concessions.
“Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks,” Ali Akbar Salehi said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN