MOSCOW - Iran hopes positive steps will be made at talks on its nuclear program with world powers in Kazakhstan this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday during a trip to Russia, one of the countries that will take part in the talks. Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast hinted that the Islamic regime may permit United Nations inspectors to visit its Parchin facility as part of an agreement with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors are due in the country on Wednesday.

Mehmanparast also confirmed that Iran is converting some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel.

"This work is being done and all its reports have been sent to the IAEA in a complete manner," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Iran's state news agency IRNA.

He was responding to a question on news reports that Iran has converted some of its 20-percent-enriched uranium into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, IRNA said.

Diplomats accredited to the IAEA in Vienna told Reuters that Iran had apparently resumed converting into fuel small amounts of higher-grade enriched uranium - a process which if expanded could buy time for negotiations between Washington and Tehran on its disputed nuclear program.

The possibility of Iran converting enriched uranium into fuel - slowing a growth in stockpiles of material that could be used to make weapons - is one possible way in which the nuclear dispute between Iran and the West could avoid hitting a crisis by the summer.

Tehran could otherwise have amassed sufficient stock by June to hit a "red line" set by Israel after which it has indicated it could attack to prevent Iran acquiring enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

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