US: Iran enrichment plan hurts local cancer patients

February 10, 2010 19:58

VIENNA – A senior US envoy accused Iranian leaders of hypocrisy Wednesday for opting to pursue "ever more dangerous nuclear technology" instead of accepting an international plan to make sure that medical isotopes get to needy Iranian cancer patients.

The sharp criticism from Glyn Davies, the chief US delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, came a day after Iran began enriching its uranium to a higher level, increasing international concerns about its nuclear aims.

Teheran says it wants to enrich only up to 20 percent — substantially below the 90 percent plus level used in the fissile core of nuclear warheads — as a part of a plan to fuel its research reactor that provides medical isotopes to hundreds of thousands of Iranians undergoing cancer treatment.

But the West says Teheran is not capable of turning the material into the fuel rods needed by the reactor. Instead it fears that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons.

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