Iranian lawmaker speaks out on 20% uranium enrichment bargaining chip

Iranian lawmaker Hossein Naqvi Hosseini told a news agency that Iran has no further need for uranium enrichment to 20%, a key piece of the ongoing negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the West over Iran's nuclear program and the sanctions crippling its economy.

Earlier this month, following the first round of negotiations, Western diplomats claimed that Iran put forward an offer to halt uranium enrichment to 20%, considered to be the weapons-grade threshold. Despite Hosseini's comments, the Iranian government has not officially confirmed the proposal.

"Tehran reactor fuel has been supplied and currently no need is felt for production of 20 per cent-enriched uranium…Tehran is ready to convert its stockpile of 20 per cent-enriched uranium to fuel rods and remove concerns over its non-peaceful use," Hosseini said Wednesday.

Hosseini did not address Tehran's reported 200 kg of higher-enriched uranium that can be converted more rapidly into a nuclear weapon.

Not surprisingly, Israeli reaction to the alleged proposal was cold:

"Giving up enrichment at 20% is less meaningful now that Iran has 20,000 centrifuges…Iran will be able to produce five instead of six nuclear bombs in the first year," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted in the Jerusalem Post.

"Israel will agree to a real and serious diplomatic solution… [in which] Iran could continue producing electricity at the reactor, but will have to purchase the nuclear fuel to operate the reactor from other countries," he continued.

Negotiations will continue on November 7 and 8 in Geneva.