Iran’s FM offers to limit uranium enrichment if world guarantees supply of fissile fuel

Amid growing economic difficulties, Ali Akbar Salehi reportedly proposes a nuclear ‘trade-off’

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Ali Akbar Salehi (photo credit: CC-BY Parmida76, Flickr)
Ali Akbar Salehi (photo credit: CC-BY Parmida76, Flickr)

Iran’s foreign minister proposed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for a guaranteed supply of fissile fuel from abroad, according to a report released on Sunday.

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel set for publication on Monday, Ali Akbar Salehi reiterated that it is Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and insisted that there is no proof it is developing highly enriched uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.

In a rare statement of flexibility, however, Salehi said that “if our right to enrichment is recognized, we are ready for a trade-off.” The Iranian foreign minister proposed that Tehran would voluntarily “limit the amount of our enrichment” in exchange for “the guaranteed supply” of the necessary fissile material from foreign suppliers.

The international community accuses Iran of enriching uranium in order to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Iran insists its uranium enrichment is for medical and research purposes only. The US and allies want Iran to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent and ship already enriched material outside the country.

Talks between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the P5+1), aimed at convincing Tehran to halt its nuclear program, reached an impasse this summer.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Iran, beleaguered by growing economic troubles, sanctions and civilian strife, was offering to end its standoff with the West by implementing a nine-stage plan to gradually suspend its production of uranium.

In the first stage, 20% enriched uranium production would stop at one of two known production sites; in the ninth stage, Iran would end medium-enriched uranium production at Fordo, a controversial site located deep underground.

According to the report, the implementation of the plan was contingent on a series of concessions by Western powers, such as canceling the sanctions which are inhibiting Tehran’s oil sales.

Tehran dismissed the accuracy of the New York Times report, PressTV reported on Saturday.

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