Iran: We have no reason to stop 20% enrichment

Tehran defiant of IAEA, P5+1 demands, rejects pleas to halt uranium enrichment, says planning new nuke reactor at Bushehr.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
May 27, 2012 11:00
2 minute read.
A bank of centrifuges at nuclear facility in Iran

Ayatollahs centrifuge 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iran seemingly rejected one of the West's key demands in negotiations over the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program, with a senior official saying Tehran has " no reason" to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, AFP reported on Sunday.

“We have no reason to cede on 20 percent, because we produce only as much of the 20 percent fuel as we need. No more, no less,” Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization was quoted as saying late Saturday.

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Enriched uranium can be used to fuel power plants, which is Iran's stated aim, or provide material for bombs, if refined much further, which the West suspects may be Iran's ultimate goal.

During talks in Baghdad this week, six world powers failed to convince Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program. They will meet again in Moscow next month to try to defuse a decade-old standoff that has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East that could disrupt oil supplies.

A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based UN body, showed Iran pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment work in defiance of UN resolutions calling on it to suspend the activity. The report, released last week, also said satellite images showed "extensive activities" at the Parchin complex, at the center of Western suspicions that Iran is developing atom bombs. Tehran denies any such plan.

Iranian officials have refused access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, saying it is a military site.

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"The reasons and document have still not been presented by the agency to convince us to give permission for this visit," Abbasi-Davani was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.

Last November, an IAEA report found that Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at Parchin in which to conduct tests that the agency said were "strong indicators of possible weapon development."

Iran's Abbasi-Davani accused unnamed countries of putting pressure on the IAEA to visit Parchin.

After a visit to Tehran last week, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said he was close to an agreement with Iran on inspection visits to nuclear facilities but some differences remained.

The US-based Institute for Science and International Security think tank has said there is concern Iran may be trying to cleanse the building at Parchin to remove any evidence of tests there.

Meanwhile, Abbas-Davani was quoted by AFP as saying Iran plans to build an additional nuclear reactor next to its only existing reactor in the southern city of Bushehr.

"Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year," Abbasi-Davani reportedly said.

Russia provides Iran with fuel for the Bushehr reactor. A new reactor would serve to boost electricity production in the Islamic Republic. The United States State Department has said it views the Bushehr plant as a civilian-energy program without a military dimension.


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