Turkey’s foreign minister says his country will host the next round of talks between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday the talks will take place starting January 21. He said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to arrive in Istanbul next week to prepare.
Iran last met with the six major powers – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China – in December. Those talks were the first between the two sides in more than a year.
The U.S. and other Western nations suspect Iran of developing nuclear technology in order to build weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Earlier Saturday, the head of Iran’s atomic energy program said his country can now produce nuclear fuel rods and plates needed to power nuclear reactors.
Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian state media, in an interview published Saturday, that Iran has built a facility in the central city of Isfahan capable of producing the nuclear fuel.
He said Western policies towards Iran actually expedited the country’s nuclear achievements. The reports did not elaborate on that statement.
The development could complicate efforts to negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with Iran. The deal, first proposed by the United Nations more than a year ago, would have Iran ship its uranium abroad for processing into fuel rods that could be used in its Tehran research reactor.
The concept of the nuclear fuel swap was to reduce Iran’s stockpile of uranium in order to reduce its capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, which many Western nations suspect is the secret purpose of Iran’s atomic program. Tehran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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