Iran will need to increase its production of 20 percent-enriched uranium, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Director Fereydoun Abbasi said April 11, a move that may further complicate international diplomatic efforts addressing Iran’s nuclear program.
He told the Iranian Students News Agency that
The five permanent UN Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany—the P5+1—have stressed that any negotiated confidence-building measure on Iran’s nuclear program must include a halt to Iran’s production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. (See ACT, March 2011.)
After the breakdown of initial talks in the fall of 2009 between the P5+1 and Iran to provide Iran with fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), Iran began increasing the enrichment level of a portion of its uranium from 4 percent to about 20 percent in February 2010, claiming that it would use the material to fuel the reactor. (See ACT, March 2010.) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report this February stating that
Most nuclear power reactors operate on uranium enriched to about 4 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235, but many research reactors, including the TRR, operate on fuel enriched to about 20 percent. Uranium enriched to 20 percent can be used to shorten the time frame to produce weapons-grade uranium, which is generally enriched to about 90 percent or higher.
Since Iran began producing uranium enriched to about 20 percent last year, Iranian officials have issued conflicting statements about whether the country would continue the process if it received fuel from abroad, claiming on some occasions that 20 percent enrichment would stop if Iran received fuel and at other times that it would continue anyway. (See ACT, June 2010.) The Iranian parliament passed legislation last July supporting the continued production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
Centrifuge Manufacturing Site
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) April 9 as stating that an industrial complex called Taba, about 80 miles west of Tehran, was one of several sites involved in manufacturing centrifuges for Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Salehi’s statement was in response to a claim two days earlier by the dissident group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which announced at a
The NCRI is an arm of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, which the
The IAEA has sought access to
Salehi also announced April 9 that