Report: Iran considering suspending 20% nuclear enrichment for six months
Al-Monitor quotes diplomatic sources as saying U.S. viewed last week's talks in Istanbul as 'best' to date, though Iran still opposes numerous offers raised during the Kazakhstan negotiations.
Iran is considering an international proposal to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment for a six-month period in exchange for eased sanctions over its contentious nuclear program, Al-Monitor reported on Tuesday, quoting diplomatic sources.
The consideration comes following technical talks in Istanbul with the six world powers on a revised nuclear proposal presented in Kazakhstan last month. Iran is also mulling converting its existing stores of 20%-enriched nuclear material into oxide for medical use, Al-Monitor reported.
The Iranian team opposes a number of elements raised in the revised proposal, Al-Monitor reported, including the bid to suspend all operations at the Fordow nuclear plant with the exception of the 20 percent uranium enrichment, shipping out 20 percent of its enriched fuel, and increased inspections by the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
Al-Monitor quoted an analyst as saying that the Americans saw the talks in Istanbul last week as the "most substantive conversation" yet with Iran regarding the contentious nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly denied the West's suspicions that it was pursuing a clandestine a nuclear weapons development program.
Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported earlier this month that Tehran plans to submit a written promise to the United Nations that it will not seek nuclear weapons. "Iran plans to declare in the UN that it will never go after nuclear bombs," the agency quoted Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying. Rahimi did not say when the promise would be delivered.
Rahimi also charged that the Western actions of late aim to thwart Iran's "scientific progress" referring to the several rounds of sanctions aimed at the nuclear program, that have impacted heavily on Iran's economy.
The two-day talks in Kazakhstan last month mainly dealt with the p5+1's updated proposal to Iran offering a series of measures to ease the harsh economic sanctions against the country as long as Tehran agreed to close Fordow, suspend uranium enrichment to 20 percent and the transfer of enriched uranium outside of Iran.
A top Iranian negotiator said he considered the discussions in Kazakhstan 'positive', and that the Western proposals were 'more realistic' than earlier offers.
The Iranians presented an updated proposal of their own in Kazakhstan – but Al-Monitor's report on Tuesday quoted an analyst as saying that the international team “went through their proposal slide by slide, and [Iran] didn’t focus on [its] counter proposal.”