TEHRAN (AFP) – A top Iranian lawmaker said on Sunday that Tehran could stop refining uranium to 20 percent purity level, the most controversial part of its atomic programme, if it gets nuclear fuel required for a research reactor.
“If the fuel for the Tehran research reactor is given, Iran will not insist on continuing the production of the fuel domestically,” state news agency IRNA quoted Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of parliament’s commission on foreign policy, as saying.
Iran has infuriated world powers by refining since February uranium to 20 percent level which when converted into fuel plates or rods can be used to power nuclear reactors.
World powers want Iran to suspend the sensitive atomic work, accusing Tehran of secretly aiming to make nuclear weapons. The Islamic republic says its atomic programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
On June 23, Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran was “not in a hurry” to produce 20 percent enriched uranium even if it can process five kilograms every month.
“We will adjust the production in a way that the workshop for making the fuel plates is equipped,” he said, referring to fuel made from the 20 percent enriched uranium and used to power the Tehran research reactor.
Borujerdi’s remarks come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov said on June 29 that the United States, Russia and France had asked the UN atomic watchdog to organise a meeting with Iran over the fuel deal but on a condition that Tehran stops the 20 percent enrichment work.
Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent level after a deadlock over a nuclear fuel deal drafted by the UN atomic watchdog last October.
That deal envisaged Tehran sending its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into high enriched material — 20 percent — and returned to Iran as fuel for the reactor which makes medical isotopes.
But the deal became bogged down after the two sides levied conditions unacceptable to the other.
In May, Brazil and Turkey brokered a counter proposal to facilitate the uranium exchange.
World powers however cold-shouldered the plan and went ahead and voted for a fourth round of UN sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Borujerdi warned Sunday that if world powers implement the sanctions, they “should not expect Iran to continue the Vienna talks.”
He was referring to the fuel deal negotiations in the Austrian capital with the United States, Russia, France and the UN atomic watchdog.