News / Middle East

Iran Orders Boost in Uranium Enrichment

Iran says it needs uranium enriched to 20 percent to fuel a medical research reactor

Elizabeth Arrott

Iran says it has informed the U.N. nuclear agency it plans to further enrich its uranium in defiance of international demands that it stop.  Iran's processing program would likely need reconfiguring first, prompting speculation the announcement may have more to do with nuclear negotiations with the West than imminent enrichment.

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency says he gave the U.N. watchdog notice of Tehran's plans Monday, in an apparent formal rejection of a U.N. plan to have the uranium enriched abroad.

The move follows an announcement by Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, that Iran will enrich some of its current stockpile to 20 percent, starting Tuesday.

Speaking to Iran's Arabic al-Alam television, Salehi said Iran would start the process in the presence of inspectors and observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had ordered the further enrichment in a televised address, one of the many varying, unofficial responses Iranian officials have given to the U.N. plan.

The IAEA wants Iran to send most of its uranium stockpile to Russia and France to boost it to 20 percent and turn it into fuel rods.  Such rods would be very difficult to enrich even more, for example to the 90 percent needed to make nuclear weapons.

If Iran can manage to push the uranium to 20 percent on its own, and it is not clear that it can, Western scientists say it could also likely enrich it to weapons grade.

Iran denies its nuclear program has a military component, and says the enrichment is for fuel for a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.  It worries it would not get the uranium back if it sends it overseas.

Nuclear chief Salehi said Iran would readily stop the enrichment if the West were to give it the fuel.

Salehi told al-Alam the offer is still open and that once Iran receives the fuel, it will stop the enrichment.

Western countries, in particular the United States, say the original deal was not meant to be modified and are pushing for further U.N. sanctions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there is still time for sanctions to work.

Meanwhile, with tensions over the standoff rising, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran has begun production of two types of unmanned aircraft with surveillance and attack capabilities.

Vahidi said the drones can carry out assaults with high precision.

Iranian Air Force commander Hesmatollah Kassiri was quoted as saying Iran is working on a new air-defense system.   The commander said Russia has been slow to deliver its S-300 missiles as agreed, but Iran's domestically-built system will be as powerful or even stronger.

Iran frequently announces major advances in its military, nuclear and space programs.  The latest advances have not been independently confirmed.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid