Iran Ready to Purchase 20 Percent Uranium from the West
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticized Western countries for politicizing the country's nuclear program, while reiterating Iran’s 2009 offer to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent level if the West were willing to sell Iran the enriched uranium.
“Iran's nuclear program, which is a legal issue, has been turned into a political one by certain Western countries,” said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Associated Press chief editors in New York on Friday [Press TV, 24 September].
Ahmadinejad added that Iran was willing to negotiate a solution to the nuclear impasse. In recent interviews with the New York Times and the Washington Post, Ahmadinejad has raised the prospect of stopping enriching uranium to 20 percent purity.
In an interview with Nicholas Kristof of New York Times during his recent visit to New York, Ahmadinejad made an unambiguous offer to the West.
“If they (the West) were willing to sell us the 20 percent enriched uranium, we would have preferred to buy it,” Ahmadinejad said. “It would have been far less expensive. It’s as though you wish to purchase a vehicle for yourself. No one is willing to sell it to you, then you must set up your own production line to produce your own vehicle,” he added [New York Times, 21 September].
Ahmadinejad had made similar offer during an interview in Tehran on 13 September with Lally Weymouth of Washington Post.
“For power stations, we need uranium of 3.5 percent and we are producing that fuel. For the Tehran Reactor we need uranium grade of 20 percent and we are producing that. We have no other requirements. Of course at the beginning we had no interest to produce uranium grade 20 percent. But the West refrained from giving us that uranium, so we had to start producing uranium grade 20 percent.
“Even if they gave us now uranium grade 20 percent, we would not continue with the production of this fuel,” Ahmadinejad said. “We don't want to produce uranium of 20 percent. Because they did not give us that uranium, we had to make our own investments. If they start to give us that uranium today, we will stop production.” [Washington Post, 13 September].
President Ahmadinejad had made a similar offer in 2009 only to be rejected by the supreme leader and the hardliners inside Iran. It was not clear whether this time he had cleared the offer with the supreme leader and had his support and approval.