(JTA) — Iran has converted some of its uranium to a more benign form, The New York Times reported.
Citing U.S. and other Western officials, the paper reported on Friday that 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.
Former U.S. State Department intelligence analyst Greg Thielmann told the Times that the diversion of medium-enriched fuel for use in a research reactor could be seen as a "a negotiating signal, and a note of moderation.”
On Dec. 27, an Iranian official said his government would let United Nations inspectors into a military base they suspect was used for atomic weapons-related work, if threats against the Islamic Republic are dropped.
Former IAEA head of inspections Olli Heinonen told The New York Times that Iran appeared to be trying "to take heat away so that things didn’t go over the tipping point.”
The Times quoted U.S. officials as cautioning against drawing firm conclusions from the move, although one American official said it appeared Iran was attempting to "put more time on the clock to solve this."