Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday reiterated Tehran’s readiness to “immediately” stop production of low enriched uranium of 20 percent, provided world powers give it the nuclear material.
“If they give us the 20 percent (enriched) fuel, we will immediately halt 20 percent (enrichment),” Ahamdinejad said in an interview aired live on Iranian state-run television repeating his comments to the New York Times when he was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly in late September.
The UN Security Council has slapped four rounds of sanctions on Iran to get it to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which can produce fuel for a reactor but which it says — contrary to Ahmadinejad’s assertion — can also be used in a nuclear warhead.
Iran started enriching uranium at 20 percent level in February 2010 after failed negotiation over a fuel swap which would have seen Iran shipping out its 3.5 percent enriched uranium in exchange for 20 percent fuel from Russia and France.
According to figures given by the International Atomic Energy Agency published in September Iran has produced 70 kilos (155 pounds) of 20 percent enriched uranium.
“Production of 20 percent (enriched) fuel is not economical. It is expensive and there is no (export) market that would to justify continuing to operate the plant,” he added in his national address.
Ahmadinejad insisted that repeating Iran’s readiness to give up 20 percent enrichment was “a way to disarm (world powers) … who say 20 percent means one step closer to the bomb.”
He added, however, that “we need fuel to 3.5 percent for our plants and research.”