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Iran lawmaker: No need for more 20 percent uranium

Published October 23, 2013 5:16 pm

Negotiations • Comments touch on a major concession desired by West.
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Tehran, Iran • A prominent Iranian lawmaker said Tehran doesn't need any more 20 percent-enriched uranium, a news agency covering the country's parliament reported late Wednesday night, a key point in negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the West.

While lawmaker Hossein Naqvi Hosseini isn't a government spokesman nor a member of Iran's nuclear negotiation team, his comments touch on a major concession wanted by Western powers — halting production of enriched uranium that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Hosseini's brief comments, published online by ICANA, did not say whether Iran will stop enrichment.

"Tehran reactor fuel has been supplied and currently no need is felt for production of 20 percent-enriched uranium," Hosseini was quoted as saying.

Hosseini, who serves as a spokesman for the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, also said the country is prepared to relieve concerns over its stockpile of enriched uranium.

"Tehran is ready to convert its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel rods and remove concerns over its non-peaceful use," he was quoted as saying. He offered no other details about what steps Iran would take.

Western powers fear Iran's nuclear program could be used to build an atomic bomb. Iran says its program is peaceful and is for advances in medical research and power generation.

Last week, Iranian diplomats met in Geneva with negotiators from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. Iran hopes to ease the crippling economic and oil sanctions placed on its government over its contested nuclear program.

Iran currently runs more than 10,000 centrifuges which have created tons of fuel-grade material that can be further enriched to arm nuclear warheads. Tehran also has nearly 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of higher-enriched uranium in a form that can be turned into weapons much more quickly. Experts say 550 pounds (250 kilograms) of 20 percent-enriched uranium are needed to produce a single warhead

Among key concessions wanted by the West, according to two diplomats who spoke with The Associated Press, is that Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent. The diplomats say Iran offered to halt 20 percent enrichment at last week's Geneva talks. However, the Iranian government hasn't publicly commented on that.

Negotiators from Iran and the six powers are due to meet in Geneva for further talks on Nov. 7-8.