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Iran Sets Condition for Possible Restrictions on Nuclear Work

Iran said Western nations should recognize that its nuclear program is non-military in exchange for a possible curb of uranium enrichment work.

“If Western countries acknowledge that Iran is enriching at 20 percent for peaceful purposes but ask us not to do it, Iran will consider their request,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying late yesterday by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. “That there was an agreement in Baghdad to a further meeting is positive. They have repeatedly seen that threats yield no results.”

Iran negotiators and their Chinese, French, German, Russian, British and U.S. counterparts agreed on May 24 to hold a new round of talks about the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear work in Moscow on June 18-19 after failing to bridge differences during negotiations in Baghdad last week.

There is “some common ground” though “significant differences remain,” Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief, told reporters in the Iraqi capital after the talks.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to carry out uranium enrichment for civilian purposes. The U.S. and its allies say the program may be designed for military ends, and have imposed financial, trade and energy sanctions against Iran.

“Imposing sanctions against Iran while negotiations are ongoing won’t be efficient,” Mehmanparast said. “Only the recognition of the Iranian nation’s right is seen as an undertaking that may allow for results.”

Medical Isotopes

Uranium enriched to 20 percent is closer to the 90 percent level of purity needed in atomic weapons. Iran says it’s only enriching uranium to that grade to ensure sufficient fuel for a Tehran Research Reactor producing medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

The six nations, known as the P5+1, had offered to discuss providing fuel plates for Iran’s medical-isotope reactor in exchange for Iran curtailing its production of 20 percent-enriched uranium, U.S. and European diplomats said during the talks last week.

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