Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Iran's Fuel Manufacturing Plant
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Iran's Fuel Manufacturing Plant, a new facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor, outside Isfahan, Iran, April 9, 2009. Photo by AP
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Iran has suspended its 20-percent uranium enrichment levels in what it claims is a goodwill gesture ahead of scheduled talks with the United States, the Guardian reported Sunday, citing news services in the region. Twenty percent uranium enrichment is thought to be only a short step from the capacity to build a complete nuclear device.

According to the Guardian, a website belonging to the Al Arabiya news channel quoted Mohammad Hossein Asfari, a member of Iran's parliament responsible for foreign policy and national security, saying he expected sanctions to be lifted in return for this act.

According to the Guardian report, sanctions have severely damaged Iran's economy, leading Tehran to indicate earlier this month that it would be willing to negotiate. However, the U.S. dismissed the offer to suspend enrichment because Terhan demanded too many concessions.

Just last Thursday, Iran confirmed for the first time that it has finished installing centrifuges for enriching uranium at its underground nuclear facility in Fordo. The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi, told Iran' Fars news agency on Thursday that "Iran is completing its nuclear activities regardless of the negative Western media speculations and reports." Abbasi spoke to reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.