TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is prepared to ease Western concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for pledges from the US and others about the country’s ability to enrich uranium, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
The remarks signaled a possible opening before next week’s talks with world powers, due in the Kazakhstan capital.
The West has been reluctant to make clear declarations on Iran’s nuclear “rights” in previous negotiations last year that ended in stalemate. Tehran is seeking international acknowledgment that its uranium enrichment program is acceptable within the UN treaty governing the spread of nuclear technology — a treaty that Iran has signed.
The US and allies fear Iran’s enrichment program could lead to atomic weapons; Tehran says its nuclear fuel is only for energy-producing reactors and medical applications.
The talks last year hit an impasse over Iran’s highest-level enrichment, at 20 percent, which can be rapidly converted to weapons grade material. Iran says it needs the 20 percent uranium for its medical research reactor. It also produces lower-enriched uranium at 3.5 percent for its Russian-build electricity reactor.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday that an important “opportunity” awaits next week’s talks in Kazakhstan between Iran and a six-nation group, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.
“We will offer ways for removing possible concerns and ambiguities to show our goodwill, if Western countries, especially the US, fully recognize the nuclear rights of countries, which shows their goodwill,” he said.
“Same-level, same-weight” mutual actions can be followed by Iran to reach an “understanding point,” Mehmanparast added.
Earlier this month, US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready to hold one-on-one talks with Iran, an offer that was later rejected by Iranian leaders.
On Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, but that if Tehran intended to build them, the US couldn’t stop it.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is set to sit across from the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in the latest round of talks over its nuclear program next week.