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Atomic Chief: Iran Not Interested in Nuclear Fuel Swap

09 Apr 2012

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090412T.A view of the reactor at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr.jpg - 090412T.A view of the reactor at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr.jpg

A view of the reactor at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, south of Tehran

REUTERS

Iran has no interest in reviving a failed nuclear fuel swap deal with Western powers, but might scale back production of higher-grade enriched uranium once it has the material it needs, the head of the country's atomic energy organisation said.

U.S. officials say that getting Iran to suspend high-level uranium enrichment and close an underground nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom are priorities for talks between Iran and world powers that are due to resume on Saturday, reports Reuters.

Iranian media also quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday as saying that Tehran would not agree to world powers imposing pre-conditions before the nuclear talks which will resume in Istanbul after collapsing more than a year ago.

"Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks," the Iranian parliamentary news agency quoted him as saying.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran's nuclear programme is hiding attempts to develop an atomic weapons capability and Washington has not ruled out military action against Tehran if diplomacy fails.

Iran says the programme is solely for power generation and medical needs, adding that it needs to enrich uranium to 20 percent to produce medical isotopes from a Tehran research reactor for the treatment of thousands of patients.

Iranian media on Monday quoted nuclear chief, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani as dismissing a revival of the swap deal to supply Iran with fuel enriched abroad for peaceful purposes at the Tehran research reactor but which collapsed in 2009.

"The Islamic Republic won't turn back and has no interest in receiving 20 percent fuel from other countries because it has made an investment," Abbasi-Davani said during a Sunday night television interview, the Iranian state news agency reported.

However, Abbasi-Davani raised the possibility of converting fuel back to 3.5 percent purity, the level of enrichment required for reactors producing nuclear power.

"Once the necessary fuel is obtained, we will scale back production and maybe even convert it to 3.5 percent," he said.

Trying to find a way to halt Iran's higher-grade uranium enrichment capability has become the focus for Washington and its allies and the suggestion leaves questions over what would happen to Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent.

Tags: News, World, Featured, Iran, NUCLEAR FUEL SWAP, ATOMIC CHIEF

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