, TEHRAN, Oct 13 – Iran will not agree to ship out its stockpile of enriched uranium, one of its main negotiators said Sunday ahead of crunch talks with world powers on its nuclear programme.
“We will negotiate about the volume, levels and the methods of enrichment but shipping out the (enriched) material is a red line for Iran,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster.
The remarks came on the eve of two-day talks in Geneva, the first meeting between Iranian negotiators and world powers since President Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate, took office in August.
The red line adds to Tehran’s insistence on what it considers its “right” to operate a uranium enrichment programme on its soil — which could provide fuel for both civilian and military objectives.
Iran currently has a stockpile of 6,774 kilogrammes of low-level uranium enriched, and nearly 186 kg of medium-enriched material with 20 percent purity, according to latest figures by the UN nuclear watchdog in September.
It also possesses some 187 kg of the 20 percent material converted to uranium oxide for use in fuel plates.
“The Iranian negotiating team will present a specific plan … which we hope will produce results in a logical time period,” Araqchi said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is Iran’s top negotiator with the so-called P5+1 group of the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany.
But Araqchi said he will lead the Iranian team in the talks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and representatives from the P5+1 countries as Zarif will only attend the opening meeting.
He said Iran would “remove all of (the) rational concerns of the other side,” referring to suspicions in the West and Israel that Tehran is pursuing nuclear arms under the guise of a civilian energy programme, a claim the Islamic state vehemently denies.