Iran: No reason to halt 20 percent enrichment (AP) Associated Press) By ALI AKBAR DAREINI TEHRAN, IRAN 05/27/12 1:55 pm ET)
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TEHRAN, Iran – Iran´s nuclear chief said Sunday there are no reasons
at the moment for his country to halt production of uranium enriched
to 20 percent, a key demand of world powers, and Iran is planning two
The West is concerned that the 20-percent enrichment could quickly be
turned into nuclear weapons-grade material. Iran insists its nuclear
development program is for peaceful purposes.
The nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, was quoted by the semiofficial
ISNA news agency as saying that Iran will continue the higher
enrichment level for a medical research reactor that produces
isotopes for treatment of about 1 million cancer patients in Iran.
"There is no reason for us to back down on 20 percent-level
enrichment, because we produce only as much 20 percent material as we
need," Abbasi said. "Not more, not less."
Abbasi said Iran is planning to build at least two new nuclear power
plants next to an existing facility that became operational with
Russia´s help last year.
Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying Sunday that Iran is in the
very early stages of planning the new 1,000-megawatt nuclear power
plants and that it may begin construction within a year or two.
He also said Iran has not yet been convinced to allow the U.N.
nuclear agency access to a military complex to probe suspicions that
in 2003, Tehran secretly tested explosives needed to set off a
nuclear bomb. The suspected blasts would have taken place inside a
Abbasi´s statement about enrichment echoed Iran´s objections last
week at a meeting with world powers in Baghdad to a proposal to
suspend 20 percent enrichment in exchange for a U.S.-supported
package that would include supplying Iran with radioactive material
and civilian plane spare parts.
Iran seeks to have Western oil embargo and banking sanctions eased
before considering suspension of 20 percent enrichment.
The six powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France
and Germany — fear the higher-enriched uranium could be quickly
boosted to weapons-grade material of 95 percent.
U.S. officials have said Washington will not ease its insistence that
Iran must fully halt uranium enrichment, but speculation is
increasing that the priorities have shifted to block the 20 percent
enrichment level while possibly allowing Iran to maintain lower-level
nuclear fuel production, at least for now.
Abbasi said a visit by IAEA to Parchin military site, southeast of
Tehran, will not come any time soon.
"We haven´t been convinced yet (to allow an IAEA visit to Parchin).
No reasons and documents have been presented to enable us to arrange
a visit to Parchin, which is a military site," he was quoted by ISNA
Iran has never said whether the alleged chamber existed, describing
Parchin as a conventional military site, not a nuclear facility.
Iran previously said IAEA inspectors would be allowed to visit
Parchin, but first there would have to be agreement between the two
sides on guidelines for the inspection. (© 2012 The Associated Press
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