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Middle East

Iran rejects demands to ship out its uranium as Geneva nuclear talks are set to start


Iran yesterday rejected Western demands to ship out its stockpile of enriched uranium but signalled its flexibility on other aspects of its nuclear activities.

Talks about Iran’s nuclear programme are set to begin in Geneva tomorrow. They will be the first since the election in June of President Hassan Rouhani, who has tried to improve relations with the West in an effort to have sanctions lifted. Hopes have been raised of a solution to the dispute.

But the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi, said that sending out uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 per cent – a short technical step away from weapons-grade material – would be crossing a “red line” for his country .

However, Mr Araqchi, who will join the talks in Switzerland, was less hardline about other areas of uranium enrichment, which Tehran says is for peaceful nuclear fuel purposes, but the West fears may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability.

“Of course we will negotiate regarding the form, amount, and various levels of [nuclear] enrichment, but the shipping of materials out of the country is our red line,” he was quoted as saying on state television’s website.