Monday, April 16, 2012

Iran Ready for Compromise on Higher-Grade Uranium Enrichment

Revival of 2009 Unraveled Agreement on Nuclear Fuel Exchange

Signaling Iran’s willingness to make concessions regarding its higher-grade uranium enrichment program, the country’s foreign minister said today that Iran was ready to resolve the issues during the upcoming talks in Baghdad scheduled for 23 May if the West starts lifting its sanctions.

“If the West wants to take confidence-building measures it should start in the field of sanctions because this action can speed up the process of negotiations reaching results,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister. “If there is goodwill, one can pass through this process very easily and we are ready to resolve all issues (concerning higher-grade enrichment) very quickly and simply and even in the Baghdad meeting,” he added [ISNA, 16 April].

"Enrichment is Iran's right but we can negotiate on how we obtain uranium with different enrichment levels," Salehi said. "Making 20 percent fuel is our right as long as it provides for our reactor needs and there is no question about that, but if they guarantee that they will provide us with the (enriched fuel) that we need, then that would be another matter.”

In 2009, the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators tentatively agreed on a deal whereby Iran exchanges most of its inventory of lower-enriched fuel for the 20-percent fuel made in the West. The agreement unraveled when the conservative politicians in Iran opposed it strongly. Salehi’s comments today signal a new willingness by Iran to forge a similar deal in Baghdad.

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