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Iran hints at nuclear compromise

Iran's nuclear chief has hinted at a compromise offer from Tehran ahead of negotiations with world powers this week over the country's controversial atomic programme.

At the core of the dispute is the issue of uranium enrichment. The West fears Tehran is seeking an atomic weapon, which the country denies. Uranium has to be enriched to more than 90% to be used for a nuclear weapon.

Iran's nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi said Tehran could stop its production of 20% enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, and continue enriching uranium to lower levels for power generation.

He told state TV that this could take place once Iran has stockpiled enough of the 20% enriched uranium.

The negotiations are to take place in Istanbul on Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Abbasi's comments reflect what will be Tehran's official stance when the negotiations begin in Istanbul more than 14 months after the last round collapsed.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted on the Iranian parliament's website as saying he hopes for some progress in the upcoming talks.

"We will honestly try to have the two sides conclude with a win-win situation in which Iran achieves its rights while removing concerns of five-plus-one group," he said.

Iran insists it has full rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty to enrich uranium to create nuclear fuel and says it only seeks enrichment levels to power reactors, but the US and others worry that the same process can be used to make weapons-grade material.

Ahead of Istanbul, there are signs Tehran is confident it may have beaten back the toughest Western demands for a complete halt to uranium enrichment and that some bargaining room has now been opened for new proposals.

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