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Washington (AFP) Sept 22, 2011
Iran has offered to stop its production of low enriched uranium, provided the West gives it the nuclear material, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview published in Thursday's New York Times.
"If they give us the 20 percent enriched uranium this very week, we will cease the domestic enrichment of uranium of up to 20 percent this very week. We only want the 20 percent enrichment for our domestic consumption," Ahmadinejad said.
"If they give it to us according to international law, according to IAEA laws, without preconditions, we will cease domestic enrichment," he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.
He reiterated his stance that Tehran is only pursuing a nuclear program for domestic purposes, and not for the production of atomic weapons as the West has alleged.
"This is not something we wish to produce and sell on the open market," the Iranian leader said.
"Twenty percent enriched uranium, as you know, is not useful for much of anything other than the production of cancer treatment medication. It is not useful for a power plant."
Ahmadinejad, currently in New York where he is scheduled later Thursday to address the United Nations General Assembly, told the Times that the deal would spare Iran the trouble and expense of processing the enriched uranium itself.
"If they were willing to sell us the 20 percent enriched uranium we would have preferred to buy it. It would have been far less expensive," he said.
"It's as though you wish to purchase a vehicle for yourself. No one is willing to sell it to you, then you must set up your own production line to produce your own vehicle."
The UN Security Council in the past 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 -- also can be used in a nuclear warhead.
EU says will resume Iran talks if no pre-conditions
The European Union is "ready to resume talks with Iran on building confidence in the nature of its nuclear pogramme, on the understanding that Iran is ready to enter into meaningful talks without pre-conditions," Maja Kocijancic said.
She spelled out Ashton's terms, with the international community in agreement now that levels of uranium enrichment are "high enough to cause concern."
That came after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered to halt Iran's production of low-enriched uranium ahead of an address to the UN assembly Thursday, as protests brewed on the streets of New York.
"If they give us the 20 percent enriched uranium this very week, we will cease the domestic enrichment of uranium of up to 20 percent this very week. We only want the 20 percent enrichment for our domestic consumption," Ahmadinejad told The New York Times.
In a statement released by Ashton overnight, in the name of the so-called "5+1" grouping of nuclear powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Ashton said the International Atomic Energy Agency had set out "increasing concern about the possible military dimensions to Irans nuclear programme."
However, despite repeated prodding seeking to persuade Tehran to cooperate with inspections on potential military uses, there had been no progress.
"We deeply regret that Iran has failed to respond in kind" to various proposals put across by these countries, Ashton said.
She said that a "twin-track" of negotiations and sanctions was the preferred way forward.
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