TEHRAN, Iran, AP – Iran left open the possibility Sunday that it might consider suspending uranium enrichment, one of the most contentious features of its suspect nuclear program.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have said they will never abandon uranium enrichment, which the United States and allies fear could be used for a nuclear arms program.
But a foreign ministry spokesman suggested Sunday that Tehran may have softened its position.
“Everything should come out through negotiations … Leave everything for negotiations,” Hamid Reza Asefi said.
The United States and four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have teamed up with Germany to offer Iran a package of incentives that would include help with peaceful nuclear development in exchange for a stop to uranium enrichment. Iran has said it will respond to the package on Aug. 22.
The spokesman shrugged off the transfer of Iran’s nuclear file to the U.N Security Council July 12, after world powers decided that Tehran had taken too long to reply to the package.
“The Security Council is not the end of the world. Any extreme action would cause an equivalent reaction, ” Asefi said.
Tehran has insisted on exercising its right to produce nuclear fuel as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Western powers are suspicious of its intentions because it concealed parts of its nuclear development from U.N. inspectors for years.