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Iran cuts down its stockpile of uranium, official says

TEHRAN — Iran significantly reduced its stock of 20 percent-enriched uranium by converting it to reactor fuel, a senior official said, an announcement that appears to be a bid to ease international concerns over its nuclear program.

The West remains concerned over Iran’s continuing production of 20 percent uranium, which is enriched to a higher level than that used to fuel most energy reactors and is closer to the 90 percent needed for a warhead. The United States and its allies demand Iran halt all enrichment, which Tehran rejects.

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The late Thursday announcement, from the government of moderate President Hasan Rouhani, appeared to be a signal to ease Western worries. Speaking to state television, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the country’s stocks of 20 percent-enriched uranium has fallen from 240 kilograms to around 140 kilograms as it is converted into fuel for a medical research reactor. Salehi said the remainder is also being converted.

‘‘We have converted a remarkable part to fuel rod,’’ Salehi said. ‘‘The amount of 20 percent-enriched uranium is small.’’

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