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I think you already know the answer... Pop III stars, by definition, are born from primordial gas that is basically Hydrogen, Helium with trace amounts of deuterium, tritium, lithium and beryllium; they initially contain almost no C, N, or O. Therefore the primary fusion in massive Pop III stars has to be (well, initially the deuterium is burned but this is ...


$^{56}Ni$ is produced in silicon-fusion stars. The fusion process doesn't "stop" at $Fe$. Several A=56 nuclides show up. See the Wiki-pedia article on :Silicon burning. Also, Introductory Nuclear Physics by Krane, Chapter 19, Section 4.

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