17 kg of 20 pct enriched uranium ready: Iran

Iran`s atomic chief has said, Tehran has produced more than 17 kg of 20% enriched uranium.

Last Updated: Jun 23, 2010, 21:54 PM IST

Tehran: Iran said on Wednesday it has produced more
than 17 kilogrammes of 20 per cent enriched uranium, as the
nation`s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei branded newly
imposed sanctions a "confused" act.

"We have so far produced more than 17 kilogrammes of 20
per cent enriched uranium and we can potentially produce five
kilogrammes per month," Iran`s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi
told the ISNA news agency.
World powers led by Washington want Iran to suspend its
uranium enrichment activity which they suspect masks a nuclear
weapons drive, and on June 9 backed a UN Security Council
resolution for a fourth set of sanctions on Tehran.

Enriched uranium can be used as fuel to power nuclear
reactors as well as to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

Salehi said Iran was "not in a hurry" to produce 20 per
cent enriched uranium even if it is able to process five kilos
of the material every month.

"We will adjust the production in a way that the workshop
for making the fuel plates is equipped," he said, referring to
fuel made from the 20 per cent enriched uranium and used to
power a Tehran research reactor.

Iran started producing 20 per cent enriched uranium from
February following an order by hardline President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad.

World powers claim that the Islamic republic does not
possess the technology required to convert the 20 per cent
enriched uranium into fuel plates for powering the reactor.

But Salehi said on June 16 that Iran has acquired the
necessary technical expertise and by September next year the
first batch of fuel plates will be ready.

Ahmadinejad had ordered the refining of uranium to 20 per
cent after a swap deal aimed at providing nuclear fuel to
power the Tehran reactor and drafted by the UN atomic body
last October hit deadlock.

That deal envisaged Iran sending its the 1,200 kilos of
low-enriched uranium (LEU) -- to five per cent purity -- to
Russia and France for further refining to 20 per cent and
later to be converted into fuel plates.

The deal hit stalemate when both sides insisted on
conditions unacceptable to the other.

Brazil and Turkey brokered a counter proposal in Tehran
on May 17 under which Iran would send its LEU to Turkey in
return for research reactor fuel to be supplied later.
But the world powers cold-shouldered that proposal and
voted through a fourth set of sanctions, which had the effect
of further tightening financial and military restrictions on
Tehran.

Khamenei, Iran`s all-powerful supreme leader, said today
the decision to impose new sanctions showed the helplessness
of world powers.

PTI