News / Middle East

Iran Offers to Exchange Low-Grade Uranium But on Iranian Territory

The head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, is making a new proposal for the exchange of Tehran's low-grade uranium with the West, Wednesday, offering to carry out the exchange at once and on Iranian soil.

Iran's official Press TV signals a new proposal for a nuclear deal Wednesday that atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi is offering the West. Salehi says that Tehran is now prepared to ship 60 percent of its low (4 percent) enriched uranium to the West, but in one batch, and on Iranian soil.

Iran failed to accept a draft nuclear deal by the West last November, giving contradictory signals from various officials. Iran also made a counter-offer calling for the exchange to take place gradually in 400 kilogram batches. Iran has an estimated stockpile of 2,065 kilograms of low-grade uranium, according to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency.

Tehran says that it needs the more highly enriched (20 percent) uranium for its medical research reactor. Under the draft UN deal, 1200 kilograms of its low-grade stockpile would be sent to France and Russia for further enrichment before eventually being sent back to Iran.

Atomic energy chief Salehi told Iran's hardline daily Javan that Iran is now "ready to deliver the total amount of fuel in one go, on the condition that the exchange take place inside Iran and simultaneously."

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who has written extensively on Iran's nuclear program, explains that the logic of the West's original deal-to remove a large portion of its uranium stockpile from the country was just a stopgap measure and is slowly becoming meaningless.

"It is perplexing why Iran would turn [the original] deal down, because the truth is that, if indeed Iran wants to use the stockpile to produce weapons grade fuel, at the rate of current production, losing 1200 kilos to the West for the kind of further enrichment [proposed] would put Iran with a stockpile of 800 kilograms, which means that within 2 months Iran would have enough to build a bomb and in under a year it would have replenished its stockpile by continuing to enrich at [its main enrichment facility at] Natanz," said Ottolenghi.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in February that Tehran would produce its own 20 percent more highly enriched uranium fuel, since the West, he alleged, refuses to do so. Mr. Ali Akbar Salehi repeated afterwards, however, that Tehran would stop producing 20 percent fuel if the West would agree to an exchange deal on Tehran's terms.

Emanuel Ottolenghi believes that President Ahmadinejad's announcement, coupled with Iran's recent advances in missile technology, including the launch of a rocket carrying a turtle, worms and mice into space, means that Tehran has thrown down the gauntlet to the West.

"Iran has crossed a very significant technological threshold. In order to enrich uranium from zero-the natural state one finds it-to 4 percent, it is about two-thirds of the time needed to produce weapons grade material and that is because to enrich it at 4 percent, the centrifuges must spin a lot more to get rid of the lighter atoms inside the natural uranium and get the heavier ones out," he said.

"Now, from 4 to 20 percent is a much simpler process. It takes a lot less time. The next stage will be 60 and then 90. By enriching to 20 percent, the Iranians many not have told the world we can produce the fuel for the Tehran research reactor on our own, but we certainly have figured out how to spin our centrifuges well enough to enrich weapons grade material," he added.

Ottolenghi argues that Iran's stockpile of lowgrade uranium is probably, at this point meaningless, because Tehran has now enough know-how to produce a totally different batch of weapons grade nuclear fuel at a clandestine facility other than its main Natanz facility.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid