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Official: Outside supply could meet Iran's nuclear fuel needs

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Official: Iran will have 'no need' to make 20 percent-enriched uranium if others supply it
  • Iran has previously said that it plans to export the nuclear fuel
  • The country claims its nuclear program is for energy and medical research
  • The United States and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons
  • Iran

(CNN) -- The head of Iran's atomic energy agency says the country's desire for enriched uranium could be met by an outside source, semi-official media reported Friday.

"If the needed fuel for the Tehran medical research [reactor] is supplied, then Iran shall have no need for producing 20 percent-enriched uranium," Iran Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to semi-official news agency Tabnak.

Citing state media, the agency reported that Salehi said that supplying the research reactor is Iran's only reason for wanting to produce 20 percent-enriched uranium.

Uranium enriched to 20 percent is capable of producing a nuclear chain reaction.

The United States and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies it, saying its nuclear program is for energy and medical research.

In June, speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said Iran would "under no circumstances" stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Salehi's remarks comes several days after diplomats from Iran, Turkey and Brazil participated in talks aimed at rebooting stalled negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. It was the first time officials from the three governments had met since May, when they signed an atomic fuel swap agreement that was criticized by Washington and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Under the proposal, Iran would send 1,200 kilograms (2,645 pounds) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of 20 percent-enriched uranium provided by Western governments.

On Monday Iran submitted a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, proposing to restart limited talks on an exchange of nuclear fuel.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.