Iran Increasingly Interested in Resolving its Nuclear Issue: U.S. Official

Iran has expressed increased interest in reaching a resolution over its nuclear program in recent weeks, according to David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

There have been signs over the past year and particularly over the past weeks, that Iran has an interest in reaching a resolution over its nuclear program, Cohen said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported.

He also stated, “We have demonstrated to Iran that continued refusal to address issues will only result in increasing pressure.”

Cohen’s comments echo a New York Times’ report on Thursday, that cited U.S. and Western officials stating that Tehran has slowed its efforts to enrich uranium, in what could be construed as a sign that it wishes to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.

According to the report, Iran began in August to convert some of its uranium enriched to 20 percent into an oxide powder that can be used in its medical research reactor, but which cannot easily be used in a nuclear weapon.

The former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Olli Heinonen, told the Times that Iran appeared to be trying “to take heat away so that things didn’t go over the tipping point.”

In addition, former U.S. State Department intelligence analyst Greg Thielmann told the Times that the diversion of medium-enriched fuel to use in the research reactor could be seen as a “a negotiating signal, and a note of moderation.”

The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an IAEA member and a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory, it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.

The latest round of high-level talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) over the country’s nuclear program was held in Moscow on June 18 and 19.

The major powers have demanded that Iran halt 20 percent enrichment of uranium, shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, and ship all of its stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium out of the country.

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