In comments today during a live interview on Iranian state TV, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that the Iranian government is willing to “immediately’ stop all production of 20 percent enriched uranium.
Ahmadinejad’s comments were a rehash of an offer made last week during his visit to the UN General Assembly, and he said that if the Iranian government was given a source of fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) they would immediately halt all production of the more highly enriched uranium.
The vast majority of Iran’s enrichment program is set to 3.6%, the level of enrichment needed for their electricity generation plant at Bushehr. Since early 2010 they have also been producing some 20% enrichment uranium in an effort to power the TRR themselves. The TRR is a US-built research reactor used to create medical isotopes.
A deal to swap 3.6 percent enriched uranium and a halt to 20% enrichment for the TRR fuel rods has been on the table since 2009. At the time it was endorsed by the US and the P5+1, but when President Ahmadinejad finally convinced the rest of the Iranian government to accept the deal in 2010, the US angrily condemned the offer, saying it was “too late.”
It must be noted that in either case the uranium is only for civilian use, far short of the level, upwards of 95%, needed for a nuclear weapon. Israeli officials today confirmed that even they believe Iran is far from the capability of making a nuclear weapon.