News / Middle East

Diplomats: Iran May Be Limiting Sensitive Nuclear Stockpile

Aug. 13, 2004 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe and the Institute for Science and International Security shows the military complex at Parchin, Iran, 30 km (about 19 miles) southeast of Tehran.Aug. 13, 2004 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe and the Institute for Science and International Security shows the military complex at Parchin, Iran, 30 km (about 19 miles) southeast of Tehran.
x
Aug. 13, 2004 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe and the Institute for Science and International Security shows the military complex at Parchin, Iran, 30 km (about 19 miles) southeast of Tehran.
Aug. 13, 2004 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe and the Institute for Science and International Security shows the military complex at Parchin, Iran, 30 km (about 19 miles) southeast of Tehran.
Reuters
Iran appears to be holding back growth of its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by continuing to convert some of it into reactor fuel, diplomats said on Monday, potentially giving more time for negotiation with world powers.
 
The stock of medium-enriched uranium gas is closely watched in the West; Israel has threatened to attack if diplomacy fails to curb Iran's program and it amasses enough of the material - a short technical step from weapons-grade - to make a bomb.
 
The Islamic state says its program is for power generation and medical purposes only, but the election of the relative moderate Hassan Rouhani as president has raised hopes that talks to address the decade-old nuclear dispute could be unblocked.
 
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2008.Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2008.
x
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2008.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2008.
Since Iran in 2010 began enriching uranium to a 20 percent concentration of the fissile isotope, it has produced more than the 240-250 kg that would be needed for one weapon.
 
But it has kept the stockpile below the stated Israeli “red line” by converting part of the uranium gas into oxide powder in order, it says, to yield fuel for a medical research reactor.
 
The diplomats, accredited to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Iran might even have stepped up this conversion in recent months.
 
If this is confirmed in the IAEA's quarterly report, due around Aug. 27-28, the inventory of 20 percent gas will rise by less than the output, which has been about 15 kg per month.
 
One of the diplomats suggested the stockpile may show little or even no growth during the last three months, saying: “Everyone expects there to be as much or more conversion.”
 
But he and others cautioned against seeing it as a signal by the new Iranian president as the uranium conversion began in late 2011.
 
Iran's stockpile of 20 percent uranium gas amounted to 182 kg in May, according to the IAEA's last report, an increase of 9 percent since February but still well below the “red line” set by Israel, believed to be the region's only nuclear weapons power.
 
While the conversion activity may help to push back any Israeli decision on whether to attack Iranian nuclear sites,  Western diplomats say Iran needs to do much more to allay  suspicions about its atomic program. They note that uranium oxide powder can be converted back into gas form relatively quickly.
 
The six powers negotiating with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - want it to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and suspend work at the underground Fordow site where most of this activity is pursued.
 
Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator who oversaw a previous deal to suspend Iran's uranium enrichment, has pledged to improve ties with the outside world and secure an easing of international sanctions.
 
But he insists on Iran's right to refine uranium, and the government has made clear that it would expect a major easing of sanctions, which are hurting its oil-dependent economy, in exchange for any agreement to curb enrichment.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More