Tue, Oct 21, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Iran considers stopping its uranium enrichment

REUTERS , TEHRAN

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami has indicated that Tehran may halt uranium enrichment, which some Western governments say could be used to make atomic bombs, if it is allowed to keep its civilian atomic energy program.

Asked by reporters on Sunday if Iran was prepared to stop enriching uranium as the US and several European countries have demanded Khatami said: "We will do whatever is necessary to solve the problems and in return we're expecting our rights to be preserved which is [the right] to have nuclear technology."

It was the first indication from a top Iranian official that Iran could mothball uranium enrichment facilities which it began building in 1985.

Iranian officials had previously insisted they had every right to continue enriching uranium to use in nuclear reactors.

Asked if Iran was prepared to meet the demands for tougher inspections and a halt to uranium enrichment, Khatami said: "We will do what is expedient for society and the nation. We have done our best for talks and exchanging views and we hope it will produce a result."

Iranian officials have said the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany will visit Tehran this week to discuss a proposal to resolve Iran's nuclear standoff before a looming Oct.31 UN deadline for Tehran to prove it has no atomic arms ambitions.

The three countries wrote to Tehran a few weeks ago offering Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stops its nuclear fuel enrichment program and accepts tougher inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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