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Low-enriched uranium stays in Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says the Islamic Republic is considering to exchange its enriched uranium with nuclear fuel inside the country.

“Iran will not send its 3.5-percent-enriched uranium out of the country,” ISNA quoted Mottaki as saying on Wednesday. “That means we are considering to exchange the enriched uranium inside Iran,” he went on to explain.

Under a mid-October proposal discussed in Vienna, Iran is asked to send most of its domestically produced low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad to be converted into more highly enriched fuel rods for the Tehran reactor, which produces medical isotopes.

Following the Vienna meeting western media launched a campaign saying that Iran had failed to respond to the proposal in a timely manner.

“The notion that Iran has not yet responded to the proposal [put forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] is mere propaganda,” The Iranian minister said, adding that the country had already responded to the agency.

“In fact, they want our response to be whatever they dictate to us!” he said.

Iran prefers to domestically enrich uranium to 20 percent, or buy the 20-percent-enriched uranium that it needs rather than exchanging its LEU with fuel rods, Mottaki said.

“However, since they were insisting on the exchange, we decided to open a window of opportunity and study different aspects of this possibility… But since their estimate about the amount of fuel to be exchanged runs counter to that of our experts, technical examinations are still ongoing,” Mottaki added.

“We have called for the Vienna technical commission to be established again so that we can present our viewpoints. The commission has yet to be established,” he noted.

The IAEA-proposed draft was first floated by the Obama administration. Tehran, however, says its ‘technical and economic’ concerns must be taken into account first.

Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says its activities are aimed at non-military civilian applications of the technology.

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