News / Middle East

Iran's Supreme Leader Calls for More Nuclear Enrichment Capacity

FILE - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
FILE - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reuters

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, highlighting a gap in positions between Tehran and world powers as they hold talks aimed at clinching a nuclear accord.

Iran and six major powers — the United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and Britain — have less than two weeks to bridge wide differences on the future scope of Iran's enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal.

They resumed talks in Vienna last week and their negotiators continued meetings in the Austrian capital on Tuesday, but there was no immediate sign of any substantive progress.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris that none of the major outstanding issues had been agreed upon, and that the United States wanted foreign ministers to join the negotiations.

Iran's capacity to refine uranium lies at the center of the nuclear stalemate and is seen as the hardest issue to resolve.

Iran insists it needs to expand its capacity to refine uranium to fuel a planned network of atomic energy plants. The powers say Tehran must sharply reduce that capacity to prevent the country being able to quickly produce a nuclear bomb using uranium enriched to a far higher degree.

"Their aim is that we accept a capacity of 10,000 separative work units [SWUs], which is equivalent to 10,000 centrifuges of the older type that we already have. Our officials say we need 190,000 SWU. Perhaps this is not a need this year or in two years or five years, but this is the country's absolute need," Khamenei said in a statement published late on Monday.

An SWU is a measurement of the effort necessary for the separation of isotopes of uranium. Western experts say Iran's current centrifuges have a very low enrichment capacity compared with the most modern technology in the world. The Islamic Republic says it is developing new, more efficient models.

Iran says its program is for civilian purposes such as electricity generation and denies having any ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

Ending the decade-long dispute with Iran is seen as central to defusing tensions and averting the danger of a major Middle East war.

A Western diplomat made clear the uphill task negotiations face if they are to hammer out an agreement: "We're still far from a deal... [However], the deadline is July 20 and that's what we're working towards."

Iran expert Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group said the negotiations were now at a precarious stage. "This has once again turned into a contest of wills."

Hardliners

Last week, other Western diplomats said Iran had reduced demands for the size of its future nuclear enrichment program in the negotiations, although Western governments were urging Tehran to compromise further. They did not give details.

But Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank, said Khamenei's statement "confirms what I have suspected: that although Iranian negotiators have leeway on some issues, such as transparency and the time frame for lifting sanctions, they are not authorized to accept cutbacks to the enrichment program."

Iran now has more than 19,000 installed enrichment centrifuges, mostly old-generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium's fissile isotope U-235.

Mohammad Ali Shabani, a Tehran-based political analyst, said Khamenei's statement was in line with what Iran's negotiators have been saying for months in Vienna.

"The open timeline, however, allows enough flexibility for the two sides to come to consensus," he said.

In defiance of Western pressure, Iran has expanded centrifuge numbers sharply over the last decade until it stopped doing that under a Nov. 24 interim deal agreed with world powers in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Iran wants an end to sanctions, which have stifled its economy and hindered oil exports. But Khamenei, ultimate arbiter on all major decisions in Iran, said the country "should plan for the future, supposing the enemy won't ease on sanctions."

Khamenei said the idea of shutting down the underground Fordow enrichment plant was "laughable," his website said.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 09, 2014 1:07 PM
Yeah, more humiliation, isn't it? When USA surreptitiously removed the agenda of aggression on the table and continued to vow that all options were still there, Khamenei was only giggling at it all. Now he comes with the joker, an ace up his sleeve, and the gangling yuppy president will dance to the podium and once again address the Americans. What will he say after July 20 when the Iranians end up rubbishing the IAEA (and/or P5+1) deal? Someone wants to be popular for pulling America out of war zones, closing facilities used to incarcerate terrorists, bulk from wars in Syria, Iraq as they bomb and kill diplomats in Libya, while flexing muscle to go into nuclear war with USSR over Ukraine, the bandwagon way, think Americans are enjoying the naivety of it all. Now, if a no-war policy has dropped the popularity of the president, and the healthcare project does not become a hit as it was proposed to be, what follows next? The failure of this negotiation will surely do more blow to the president's rating.

"Iran must not be allowed to produce a nuclear weapon". This has been the policy of USA; will one man's desire to have one of his own (islamist country) listed among the nuclear powers in the world becloud USA's policy aimed at preventing a nuclear terrorism from joining the current terrorist attrition aimed at USA? Let us fully understand that failure to reach a compromise by target date 20 July 2014 will set the stage for nuclear arms proliferation. It is at the same time, directly or indirectly, setting the stage for the dreaded military option - whether it remains on USA's negotiation table or not. For there are people to whom Iran's nuclear capability simply translates to existential threat. To ignore it is to accept another holocaust, a death warrant, a suicide! While six nations have been involved in the negotiations with Iran, one country stands out as the pivotal, and the success or failure of it will be attributable to the one country that should take the lead in these matters but has become a laugh to those who know better since the leader does not know his way.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 09, 2014 2:00 AM
They will have a nuke soon, no doubt. If only Obama can stop talking, and talking, and talking, and selfies, and more talking....and just a few more selfies........and check the popularity polls (to see if he is still the cool prez).....maybe he can see that this is serious..........FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs