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Iran 'may end uranium enrichment'

Iran would consider ending uranium enrichment, the most crucial part of its controversial nuclear activities, if world powers send Tehran nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said.

Iran is also prepared to set a date for resumption of talks with six world powers to discuss Tehran's nuclear programme, Mr Ahmadinejad told a news conference in a New York hotel, saying October would be the likely time for the two sides to meet.

Mr Ahmadinejad also defended his remarks at the UN a day earlier in which he claimed most people in the world believe the US was behind the September 11 2001 terror attacks and again challenged the United Nations to set up a commission to probe the attacks.

"I did not pass judgment, but don't you feel that the time has come to have a fact-finding committee?" he asked.

Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran had no interest in enriching uranium from around 3.5% to 20% purity but was forced to do so after the world powers refused to provide nuclear fuel that is needed for a Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes for patients.

That level is far below the more than 90% purity needed to build a nuclear weapon, but US officials have expressed concern Iran may be moving closer to an ability to reach weapons-grade level.

Tehran began higher enrichment in February after talks stalled over a UN-brokered proposal that the United States hoped would - at least temporarily - leave Iran unable to produce a warhead. The US and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies.

"We were not interested to carry out 20% enrichment. They (the US and its allies) politicised the issue. We were forced to do it to support the (medical) patients," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

"We will consider halting uranium enrichment whenever nuclear fuel is provided to us."

He said pressure was counter-productive, but respectful talks will bear fruit.

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