Russia, US, France blast Iran enrichment

Ahmadinejad says country installing more advanced machinery at main facility.

By BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 16, 2010 18:34
2 minute read.
Ahmadinejad visits of the Natanz Uranium Enrichmen

Ahmadinejad visits Natanz 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Russia joined the US and France in urging Iran to stop enriching uranium to higher levels in a statement shared Wednesday with The Associated Press, suggesting the project reinforced suspicions that Teheran is seeking to make nuclear weapons.

Shrugging off international concerns, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the country was moving ahead to expand its enrichment capacities by installing more advanced machinery at its main enrichment facility.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Ahmadinejad told reporters in Teheran the centrifuges are not yet operational but are five times more efficient than the model now in use at its Natanz enrichment plant.

Because enrichment can produce both nuclear weapons as well as reactor fuel, Iran is under three set of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop its program. Its determination to expand such activities had been criticized worldwide even before an announcement earlier this month that Teheran  would enrich to a higher level.

In a confidential letter to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the three world powers questioned Teheran 's assertion that it had started the higher enrichment project to provide fuel to a research reactor providing medical isotopes for cancer patients.

The one-page letter was significant in reflecting unified Russian and Western opposition to Iran's move. Russia in the past has often put the brakes on Western attempts to penalize Teheran  for defying UN Security Council demands that it freeze its enrichment program, which can produce both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.

"If Iran goes ahead with this escalation, it would raise fresh concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions, in light of the fact that Iran cannot produced the needed nuclear fuel in time" to refuel the research reactor, said the letter.



Iran's decision to enrich to the 20-percent level is "wholly unjustified, contrary to UN Security Council resolutions and represent(s) a further step toward a capability to produce highly enriched uranium," said the letter to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.

The 20-percent mark represents the threshold between low-enriched and high-enriched uranium.

Although warhead material must be enriched to a level of 90 percent or more, just getting its present stockpile to the 20 percent mark would be a major step for Iran's nuclear program. While enriching to 20 percent would take about one year, using up to 2,000 centrifuges at Teheran 's underground Natanz facility, any next step — moving from 20 to 90 percent — would take only half a year and between 500-1,000 centrifuges.

Since its clandestine enrichment program became known eight years ago, Iran has insisted it is meant only to generate nuclear fuel. But its secrecy and refusal to cooperate with an IAEA probe of allegations that it experimented with aspects of a weapons program had increased fears about its nuclear ambitions even before Ahmadinejad's Feb.7 announcement that Iran will raise the enrichment bar.

Related Content

Bushehr nuclear Iranian
August 5, 2014
Iran and the bomb: The future of negotiations

By YONAH JEREMY BOB