If it is assured regular supply of n-fuel for medical reactor

Iran has offered to negotiate a 20-per cent cap on uranium enrichment if it is assured a regular supply of nuclear fuel for its medical reactor that manufactures isotopes to treat cancer.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast said at a conference in Kazakhstan that if “a guarantee is provided to supply the 20-per cent [enriched] fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, our officials are ready to enter talks about 20-per cent enrichment”, Iran’s Press TV reported.

Supplementing Mr. Mehmanparast’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not give up enrichment but the level of enrichment could be kept down. “If our right to enrichment is recognised, we are prepared to offer an exchange. We would voluntarily limit the extent of our enrichment programme, but in return we would need a guaranteed supply of the relevant fuels from abroad,” Mr. Salehi told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel earlier in the week.

The Iranian offer still falls short of the western demand that Iran shut down its Fordo enrichment facility near Qom, and shift abroad the entire stockpile of uranium enriched to a 20-per-cent level.

The West and Israel apparently fear that as long as Iran retains enriched uranium, there is always a danger that it can enrich it further beyond 90 per cent — enabling bomb manufacture. Iran argues that these fears are unfounded as its entire nuclear infrastructure and material stockpiles are under the surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Besides, the National Intelligence Estimates of the United States have repeatedly said there is no evidence since 2003 that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

Possible relief

Analysts point out that the Iranian offer reported by Press TV may have a larger context. Tehran Times quoted a report that appeared in The Guardian , which stated that the six major powers — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany — will float a “reformulated” proposal that could help resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. The new offer would be made after the U.S. presidential election that is scheduled on November 6. Iran and the six global powers last met on June 18-19 in Moscow.

The report goes on to say that the new proposal will offer a limited relief from existing sanctions and also other incentives so that Iran is encouraged to limit the level of enrichment.

The Guardian quoted a European official as saying: “We recognise that the Iranians need something more with which they can sell a deal at home, and we will expect real change on the other side. It is about getting the sequencing right. That is what this next round will be about.” Despite signs of a fresh beginning, the Iranian establishment at the highest level is sceptical about a breakthrough. In a public address in the North Khorasan province, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the West was not really concerned about the nuclear issue but Iran’s resistance against western global dominance. “They pretend that the sanctions will be lifted if the Iranian nation gives up nuclear energy. They lie. They make decisions out of grudge and aversion [toward Iran] and impose irrational sanctions,” he said.

  • Offer falls short of the western demand

  • Tehran says West’s fears are unfounded