News / Middle East

Iran’s Reactor-Fuel Demand Snarls Nuclear Talks

FILE: European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smile at the start of nuclear talks in Vienna April 8, 2014.
FILE: European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smile at the start of nuclear talks in Vienna April 8, 2014.
Reuters
Iran has said it should be able to produce fuel for its Bushehr nuclear power plant, a demand that world powers are unlikely to agree to and that may jeopardize a July deadline for a deal to end its nuclear standoff with the West.
 
Diplomats from the six major powers negotiating with Tehran said Iranian negotiators expressed the demand at the latest talks in May, identifying one reason why little progress was made toward a nuclear deal that could end Tehran's economic isolation.
 
Iran's ability to produce enriched uranium goes to the heart of a decade-old dispute over its nuclear program. The fuel can be used both to power reactors and, if further processed, to make the core of a nuclear warhead.
 
A diplomat from the “P5+1” countries in talks with Iran -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- told Reuters the Iranians “expect to get capacity to fuel Busheh and that’s unrealistic.
 
“It gets you a very short breakout time,'' he said, referring to the time necessary to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb.
 
Current U.N. Security Council resolutions demand that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment. The country has refused, saying its nuclear work is entirely peaceful. A new deal likely would allow enrichment, but it also would aim to extend significantly the amount of time Iran would need to assemble bomb material if it chose to do so.
 
Talks are scheduled to resume in mid-June. 
 
Russian opposition?
 
Iran's demand to make its own fuel for the 1,000-megawatt power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr may face resistance from Russia, which built it and in 2011 signed a 10-year contract to supply the fuel.
 
That might hurt Tehran’s negotiating stance, which relies in part on Moscow's moderate approach toward Tehran compared to the West at the talks.
 
To reach a deal, the sides will also have to agree on issues such as the future of other Iranian nuclear facilities and the speed and timeline of Western relief from economic sanctions.
 
One diplomat said Iran seemed to have scaled back its previous openness to resolve concerns over the heavy-water Arak reactor, which the West fears could provide plutonium for bombs once it is operational.
 
Centrifuge number a core concern
 
At the May talks, Iranian officials appeared to suggest specific technical solutions that ran contrary to Western expectations, diplomats said. Iran has since publicly dismissed as “ridiculous” one solution that could allay western concerns.
 
A key issue that will determine Iran's enrichment capacity is the number of centrifuges, the machines spinning at supersonic speed to concentrate uranium's fissile element, which it can retain.
 
Iran now has about 19,000 centrifuges, with roughly half of them in operation. Western diplomats say only about half of the number of machines operating would be acceptable, although any long-term deal would depend on other factors, including the extent of oversight by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
 
Such a number could be a small fraction of what might be needed to fuel Bushehr.

You May Like

Disappointing Chinese Economic News Rattles Markets

Key stock indexes in London, Paris and Germany were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 04, 2014 2:31 PM
Once again Iran driving the talks. And why not if the most dreaded military power told the world its citizens have become war-weary, while at the same time weakly saying all options are on table. The Iran issue should be beyond just compliance with IAEA to world safety and Iran's accountability, reliability and safety of a world with nuclear Iran. Much as Iran knows better than turn against Russia, using a deal it has with Russia as a joker simply means one thing - Iran wants to call the bluff of both the P5+1 and IAEA. Seeing it is possible to get what it wants in the reign of a weak administration at the White House, why not go the whole hug? Israel has been the restraining force, but somehow Iran seems to understand its strong lobby group in Congress has quietened IPAC considerably persuaded by the White House which gave itself away from the onset when it showed its incapability to maneuver the diplomatic front. It's this inability to navigate the troubled waters of international waters of diplomacy that is giving Iran the new impetus to achieve whatever height it could until perhaps a new strong White House comes on stream late 2016.
In Response

by: George from: San Francisco
June 05, 2014 9:00 PM
Godwin from: Nigeria: You have no idea what you are talking about. Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons. Read Gareth Porter's book, "Manufactured Crisis," to understand that the "Iran nuclear issue," is a figment of the imagination of powers that be. It is a charade. And, I don't think the U.S. government has the courage to admit it.

This problem could be solved easily in July. Unfortunately, it is more likely that we'll go another 30 years without any progress. Well, the Cuba fiasco is almost 60 years old. We need enemies to survive and Iran is a convenient tool.

by: George from: San Francisco
June 03, 2014 11:57 PM
Iran needs to be self-sufficient in the production of fuel for its reactors. Otherwise, it will be blackmailed on the slightest excuse. Russia is going along with the Western demands because its wants to sell the fuel to Iran. But, the Russians are not to be trusted either.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs