Photo: Reuters
Ali Akbar Salehi
Photo: Reuters
Iran signals readiness for more nuke concessions
Islamic republic's nuclear chief Salehi says Tehran can modify design of heavy-water reactor at Arak so it would 'produce less plutonium'

Iran is signaling an apparent readiness for more concessions over its nuclear program, this time on over its heavy-water reactor at Arak.



The semi-official Mehr news agency Friday quoted nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying Tehran can modify the reactor's design so it would "produce less plutonium, to reduce concerns" by the West.


Salehi did not elaborate but his remarks came ahead of negotiations with world powers later in February about a long-term deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program.


The West fears that if Arak goes online, it could produce plutonium, which could eventually be used for nuclear weapons. Iran denies it wants to make an atomic bomb.


Under a landmark November deal, Tehran stopped enrichment of uranium to 20 percent in exchange for easing of some Western sanctions.


The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to persuade Iran to finally start addressing long-held suspicions it may have researched how to build atomic bombs.


Tehran has rejected the accusations of weaponization-related work as forged and baseless, while saying it will cooperate with the IAEA to clear up any "ambiguities".


Diplomats are cautiously optimistic that after Saturday's talks in Tehran the team of senior IAEA inspectors will be able to show at least some progress in gaining Iran's cooperation.


A spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said the meeting had been scheduled for one day but might be extended, the ISNA news agency reported on Friday.


Iran-IAEA relations have improved since last year's election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as president of Iran on a platform to ease the country's international isolation.


Under an agreement signed in November, the IAEA has already visited a heavy water production plant and a uranium mine in Iran. However, those first steps did not go to the heart of its investigation and Western diplomats will watch Saturday's meeting closely to see whether the next phase achieves that.


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