Iran to enrich uranium to 20 pct as per needs: Salehi

Iran will press on with enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity until its nuclear fuel needs are met, but not refine the material to this level "forever," the country`s atomic chief said on Saturday.

Updated: Aug 21, 2010, 19:48 PM IST

Tehran: Iran will press on with enriching
uranium to 20 per cent purity until its nuclear fuel needs are
met, but not refine the material to this level "forever," the
country`s atomic chief said on Saturday.

"We are not intending to convert all our uranium to 20
percent enriched uranium. We will go as far as our needs are
met," Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters in the southern port of
Bushehr after Iran began loading fuel into its first nuclear
power plant.

The long-delayed Bushehr plant is built by Russia, which
is also supplying it with fuel for 10 years.

"We have no intention to proceed forever with enriching
20 per cent uranium," Salehi said, while noting that Iran has
a "right" to the process as a member of the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Enrichment is at the centre of fears about Iran`s nuclear
programme which the West suspects is masking a weapons drive
despite Tehran`s vehement denial.

Iran has been slapped with four rounds of UN Security
Council sanctions for its refusal to halt the enrichment work.
In February, Iran stepped up its uranium enrichment level
to 20 per cent -- still much lower than the around 90 per cent
bomb grade but a significant development from its
under-five-percent purification.

The expanded enrichment work was met with international
concern but Tehran said it needed to make fuel for an ageing
research reactor.

PTI