Shipping out uranium is ‘our red line,’ Iran says

Deputy foreign minister insists Tehran is serious about talking to West over nuclear program, but will not send material out of the country

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube/PressTV)
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (photo credit: screen capture/YouTube/PressTV)

Iran won’t ship out its stockpiles of enriched uranium to another country but is ready to negotiate over production amid concerns over its nuclear program, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday.

“Of course we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of (uranium) enrichment, but the shipping of materials out of the country is our red line,” Araqchi in an interview on state television, reported by Reuters.

Araqchi is one of the Iranian officials due to the attend talks with the so-called P5+1 world powers in Geneva on October 15 and 16.

The transfer of Iran’s 20% enriched uranium, material that is needed to make an atomic bomb, is expected to be one of the central demands that the P5+1 — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany — make of Tehran during the meetings.

“Tehran is looking for a win-win situation that would allay the logical concerns of both parties,” Araqchi said, according to a report on the Trend Azerbaijani news website. “We want to make sure that the other party is not holding talks for talks’ sake, and the negotiations will bear tangible results.”

The news comes in contrast to earlier reports over the weekend that Iran may agree to give up the enriched uranium.

Iran is keen to see Western-imposed sanctions on its oil and financial industries lifted while the West wants an end to any activities that could give the Islamic Republic the resources it needs to build nuclear weapons.

The world powers, known as P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — are also somewhat divided in the approach to take with Tehran.

Russia and China have long argued that sanctions should be scaled back, while the UK has urged that Iran first take concrete steps to slow its nuclear drive.

Reports of an Iranian willingness to compromise come amid an ostensible thawing in US-Iran relations in the wake of conciliatory gestures made by both sides at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York last month.

The mutual show of receptivity culminated in a historic, 15-minute phone conversation between the recently elected President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama — the first direct high-level contact between the two countries in 34 years.

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