Iran on Sunday said that it will not close its underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordow near the city of Qom, nor will it stop enriching uranium to 20 percent if world powers demand these concessions at talks on Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West scheduled to resume this week, AFP reported.
Getting Iran to suspend high-level uranium enrichment and close the bunker at Fordow are "near-term priorities" for the United States and its allies, a senior US official said on Sunday, confirming an earlier New York Times' report stating that western diplomats would demand Iran make these concessions at the upcoming talks.
Iranian media said Sunday that the new round of talks with the P5+1 group of world powers, which collapsed more than a year ago, would resume in Istanbul on Friday. The P5+1 consists of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - in addition to Germany.
Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization called the western diplomats' demands "irrational," according to AFP.
AFP quoted Davani as saying in an interview with the Iranian ISNA news agency that the Fordow facility had to be built underground because of the West's threats to attack the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.
“If they do not threaten us and guarantee that no aggression will occur, then there would be no need for countries to build facilities underground. They should change their behavior and language,” he said.
Davani added that Iran would continue to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent, but not "more than we need, because it is not in our benefit to produce it and keep it." Iran says it needs 20% enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes in its Tehran research reactor, while the West claims that 20% enriched uranium is a stepping stone to creating nuclear weapons.