Lawmaker: We Don't Need 20% Enriched Uranium

Prominent Iranian lawmaker says Tehran is willing to relieve concerns about its uranium, but won't say it'll stop enriching.

Elad Benari ,

Bushehr nuclear power plant
Bushehr nuclear power plant
AFP photo

A prominent Iranian lawmaker has claimed that Tehran does not need any more 20 percent-enriched uranium, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The report cited an Iranian news agency covering the country's parliament.

While Hossein Naqvi Hosseini, the lawmaker who made the comments, is not a government spokesman nor a member of Iran's nuclear negotiation team, his comments touch on a major concession wanted by Western powers in talks with the Islamic Republic.

Hosseini's comments, published by the ICANA news agency, did not say whether Iran will stop enrichment.

"Tehran reactor fuel has been supplied and currently no need is felt for production of 20 percent-enriched uranium," Hosseini was quoted as saying.

Hosseini, who serves as a spokesman for the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, also said the country is prepared to relieve concerns over its stockpile of enriched uranium.

"Tehran is ready to convert its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel rods and remove concerns over its non-peaceful use," he was quoted as having said, but no other details about what steps Iran would take.

The comments come a week after Iranian negotiators met with representatives of the so-called P5+1 - the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany.

During the two-day session in Geneva, the first round of talks between the sides since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, Iran presented what it described as a breakthrough proposal that would include snap inspections of its atomic sites.

The proposal was described by the White House as "useful". White House spokesman Jay Carney said it showed a "level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before." Western negotiators described the talks as the most detailed and serious to date.

Following the talks, Al-Monitor reported that Iran’s new proposal to resolve the nuclear crisis includes a freeze on production of 20% enriched uranium, a pledge to convert its stockpile to fuel rods and an agreement to relinquish spent fuel for a still-to-be completed heavy water reactor.

An unnamed source told the website that in the first stage, Iran would stop producing 20% enriched uranium and “try to convert the stock” it has amassed to fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, an old American-origin facility that produces medical isotopes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied that the report was true, saying on Twitter that members of the Iranian negotiating team “are the only ones who know the proposal and they only speak on-the-record. Anonymous sources have no info.”

Rouhani’s government has presented a more moderate line of thinking and the president has said he wants to reach a deal with the West in order to ease the sanctions on his country, which have had a devastating effect on the economy.

Israel has warned the world not to be fooled by Rouhani’s “smile attack”, warning that Rouhani’s plan was to distract the world by making moderate statements while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the result of the current negotiations between Western nations and the Iranian regime must be nothing less than “the full dismantling of Iran's military nuclear program.”