'Iranian atomic energy chief hints at compromise'

Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani says Tehran will carry out 20% uranium enrichment "just for its own needs" and not beyond that.

April 9, 2012 19:01
1 minute read.
Workers move fuel rod at Isfahan Uranium Facility

Workers move fuel rod in Isfahan R 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Caren Firouz)

Hinting at a possible compromise ahead of nuclear talks this week, Iran's Atomic Energy Agency chief Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani said that the country would carry out 20 percent uranium enrichment "just for its own needs" and not beyond that, the state-owned IRNA news agency reported Monday.

The nuclear chief said in an interview with state TV on Sunday night that Iran wanted to stockpile the more enriched fuel after it had produced enough, and afterwards would enrich to lower levels.

Abbasi-Davani added that enrichment beyond 20% was not part of the country's long term nuclear goal, IRNA reported.

Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, but Israel and the West fear that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, which would require uranium enriched to 90%.

Abbasi added that perhaps this year Iran might build a research reactor for medical isotopes, should the Iranian parliament approve the budget, and that if so the remaining fuel might be used there.

In the past, Iran has said it is producing the 20% enriched fuel to replenish a small nuclear reactor in Teheran that is used to make medical isotopes.

The atomic energy agency chief said that Iran had begun production of 'virtual' (non-uranium) fuel destined for its Arak heavy water nuclear plant, adding that the Islamic Republic had not undertaken its achievements in virtual fuel and in the creation of a small-scale fuel assembly for "propaganda purposes."

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