|Iran has converted uranium to fuel stock in a confidence-building measure: report||
TEHRAN – Iran has converted more than a third of its 20 percent enriched uranium into a powder for the Tehran Research Reactor that is difficult to reprocess for weapons production, experts and UN monitors say, AP reported on Saturday.
According to the report, Iran’s decision can be regarded as an effort to allay concerns over its nuclear program.
The work, noted in a technical report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in late August, also suggests that Iran is trying to display enough goodwill to restart nuclear talks with world powers, while aiming to soften demands by the U.S. and others to halt Tehran’s high-level uranium enrichment.
The latest round of high-level talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over the country’s nuclear program was held in Moscow on June 18 and 19.
The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an IAEA member and a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.
The six major powers have demanded that Iran halt 20 percent enrichment, shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, and ship all of its stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium out of the country.
Iran’s main demand is that its right to uranium enrichment, as enumerated in the NPT, be recognized.
Iranian MP Hossein Naqavi-Hosseini recently said that Iran was taking a “serious and concrete confidence-building measure” by converting some of the 20 percent enriched stockpile into U3O8, or uranium oxide, in the form of powder, AP reported on Saturday.
According to AP, the move also appears to be part of a wider strategy to seek relief from Western sanctions in exchange for step-by-step plans to scale back uranium enrichment.
Naqavi-Hosseini, who is the rapporteur of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, added that the move is expected to facilitate talks between Iran and world powers and pave the way for a diplomatic solution over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
“Iran has demonstrated” its rejection of nuclear weapons, he stated.
The IAEA confirmed in its August 30 report that Iran had made U308, uranium oxide, from 71.25 kilograms of its total of 190 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium produced until mid-August.
According to nuclear experts, U308 is effectively off the table as a material for possible weapons production.
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