‘Iran offered to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent’

Iranian FM denies Al-Monitor report which leaked details of the Islamic Republic’s alleged proposal in Geneva

A satellite image of Iran's Fordo uranium enrichment facility. (AP/DigitalGlobe)
A satellite image of Iran's Fordo uranium enrichment facility. (AP/DigitalGlobe)

During talks this week in Geneva, Iran reportedly offered to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, and to convert the country’s current stockpile into fuel rods, in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

A report in Al-Monitor quoted an Iranian source with purported knowledge of the two-day talks between his country and the P5+1, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.

Iran also pledged to relinquish spent fuel for the still-to-be completed Arak heavy water reactor, according to the report.

The proposed measures, along with more probing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were meant to allay global fears and make sure that the Islamic Republic cannot quickly reach nuclear weapons capability.

The Iranian source, whom the report claimed had “proven reliable in the past,” said his country offered to allow full monitoring of the underground enrichment facility at Fordo, and to convert it to a research facility.

The proposal, as reported, failed to address previous Western demands that all uranium enriched to 20% be removed from Iran, operations at Fordo be suspended and work on Arak stopped.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter on Friday and denied the information contained in the Al-Monitor report.

He said members of the Iranian negotiating team and their counterparts in the P5+1 were the only ones who knew the details of Iran’s proposal. He claimed that “anonymous sources have no info.”

US and European officials did not comment on the purported leaked details of the Iranian plan, but P5+1 representatives left Geneva upbeat about the headway made at the conference. Negotiations are scheduled to resume in early November.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the talks contained a “level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before.” While cautioning not to expect a prompt breakthrough, Carney said the US “found the Iranian presentation very useful.”

The sides released a statement at the end of two days of talks calling the meetings “substantive and forward looking.”

US and EU officials said Tuesday that they had held very detailed technical talks with the Iranian delegation “for the first time.” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that while it wasn’t “a breakthrough at this stage … it certainly is positive that there was enough information to have technical discussions.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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