Iran to halt 20-pct uranium enrichment if West's sanctions lifted: envoy

Tehran, Sept. 26 (Xinhua-ANI): Iran's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Iran has offered to stop enriching uranium to a purity level of 20 percent if the West lifts sanctions against Tehran, semi- official Mehr news agency reported Wednesday.

Soltanieh said the offer was made in a meeting between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Istanbul earlier this month.

"We are prepared to suspend enrichment to 20 percent, provided that we find a reciprocal step compatible with it," Soltanieh was quoted as saying.

"We said this in Istanbul," he said, adding that "If we do that, there shouldn't be sanctions."

On Sept. 18, Ashton met with Iranian officials in Istanbul in a bid to end the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program. Jalili said the two sides were satisfied with what they had agreed during the talks.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, and warned that it will retaliate if it comes under an attack.

Iranian nuclear talks in June ended without a breakthrough, while the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany-are expected to discuss with Tehran on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York. (Xinhua-ANI)