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Iran Legislators Press to Defend Contested Uranium Effort

Iran's parliament, shown meeting in August, reportedly could vote on Tuesday on a measure aimed at restricting Tehran's ability to halt contested elements of its nuclear program (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images). Iran's parliament, shown meeting in August, reportedly could vote on Tuesday on a measure aimed at restricting Tehran's ability to halt contested elements of its nuclear program (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images).

Iran's legislature could move on Tuesday to prevent the government from potentially halting its production of uranium suited for fast conversion to nuclear-bomb material, Reuters reported.

Mehdi Mousavinejad, a member of a body, said a draft parliamentary measure would force his nation's government to continue enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, wrap up construction of a heavy-water reactor capable of generating weapon-usable plutonium, and complete work on other elements of the nation's nuclear program.

Iran's heavy-water reactor and 20 percent-enriched uranium are both key points of contention in an international standoff over the Persian Gulf nation's atomic activities. On Wednesday, an Iranian Foreign Ministry-led negotiating team is expected join talks in Geneva on a potential initial deal aimed at allaying global fears that the nuclear effort is geared toward development of an arms capability.

Lawmaker Fatema Alia said the parliament could back the possible nuclear-energy production mandate "on the eve of the Geneva talks."

The measure could add a new layer of complexity to Iran's negotiations with the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, according to Reuters. However, the legislature's influence is checked by other Iranian government institutions, and any deal backed by the country's supreme religious leader is unlikely to meet resistance from lawmakers, the news agency reported.

Separately, Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday asserted that his country's atomic efforts are not aimed at "threatening others."

"For us, nuclear energy is about securing the future of our children, about diversifying our economy, about stopping the burning of our oil, and about generating clean power," he said in an English-language video statement.

Also on Tuesday, Iran denied an assertion by exiled dissidents that the country is constructing a clandestine nuclear-arms development site south of its capital, Agence France-Presse reported.

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