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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Demands Right to Enrich Uranium

Iran may agree to invest in a uranium enrichment joint venture in Russia if it can continue atomic fuel research and its right to enrich its own uranium in the future is recognized, an Iranian security official said Monday.

Hossein Entezami, spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, also said that if Tehran's conditions were met, it would be prepared to boost cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

"This is a green light to show that we are ready to cooperate," he said.

He spoke a day after the head of Iran's nuclear program said Tehran had reached a "basic" agreement with Moscow on a proposed joint venture to enrich uranium in Russia.

The two conditions are unlikely to be acceptable to Western countries, led by the United States, which suspect Iran will use nuclear research to master enrichment -- a process that can be used to make bomb-grade fuel.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called for "a moratorium on enriching uranium inside Iran until specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency have clarified everything."

Lavrov also stressed that the talks between Russia and Iran had not ended and would continue until the IAEA board of governors' meeting on Iran next week. That meeting could start a process leading to punishment by the UN Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions on Iran.

Moscow-Tehran talks were to resume Tuesday.

Western diplomats voiced doubts about whether a breakthrough had been achieved Sunday.

"We'll have to see what the details of any agreement are. Given their history, you can understand why we remain skeptical," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Monday.

A European diplomat in Vienna said there had only been "some agreement on modalities, but not on substance" during the talks in Iran. The diplomat, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, added: "Our understanding is that there has been a lot of spin by the Iranian side."

Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to a low grade suitable for use in atomic power reactors, not to the highly enriched levels needed to make bombs.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, has said a solution that respects Iran's right to nuclear technology while allaying fears it could be after nuclear arms, could be found without the Security Council.

"We are convinced that within the framework of these requirements and within the framework of the IAEA, this is possible," he said on Monday after talks in Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, said that the United States and Russia should abolish their nuclear weapons as they were a threat to Middle Eastern stability.

Ahmadinejad, speaking during a brief visit to Kuwait, did not mention Sunday's announcement.

(Reuters, AP)