Iran to use surplus uranium as bargaining chip

Iran has more enriched uranium than it needs and plans to use it as a bargaining chip at next week's nuclear talks in Geneva.

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GENEVA // Iran has more enriched uranium than it needs and plans to use that as a bargaining chip at nuclear talks in Geneva next week.

Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker, said on Wednesday the surplus uranium would be discussed with western powers in the context of whether it will halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent, which has been a main concession sought in the negotiations.

“Through the process of negotiations, yes, things can be said and they can discuss this matter,” he said.

The 20 per cent-enriched uranium is much closer to warhead-grade material than the level needed for energy-producing nuclear reactors, but Mr Larijani says it needs the higher enrichment solely for energy, research and isotopes for medical treatments, not for nuclear weapons.

He said Iran produced the enriched uranium itself because the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency would not provide it.

“But we have some surplus, you know, the amount that we don’t need. But over that we can have some discussions,” he said.

Iran plans to negotiate over its nuclear programme next week with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The US and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons.

* Associated Press