Iran starts uranium enrichment

TEHRAN - Iran began work on Tuesday to produce higher-grade nuclear fuel, an official said, a move that may increase pressure for new U.N. sanctions on the major oil producer.

By (Agencies)

Published: Tue 9 Feb 2010, 12:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Feb 2020, 8:14 PM

“We started preparatory work at 9:30 a.m (0600 GMT) in the presence of (International Atomic Energy Agency) representatives,” said a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Shirzadian.
“And it (production) will be formally announced at 1 p.m. by Dr Salehi,” he told Reuters, referring to the head of the Iranian nuclear agency, Ali Akbar Salehi.
Iran’s Arabic-language state television, al Alam, earlier on Tuesday said production of 20 percent enriched uranium had started at the Natanz plant.
Iran currently enriches uranium to a level of 3.5 percent. Eighty percent or more is needed for a nuclear bomb.
“Today we started to make 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel ... in the presence of IAEA inspectors,” an unnamed official told al Alam.
Iran announced on Sunday it would produce uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent for use in a Tehran research reactor, raising Western fears it wants to develop atom bombs.
The United States and France led calls for what would be a fourth, broader set of punitive sanctions, while a senior lawmaker in Russia, which in the past has urged talks rather than punishment, said economic measures should be considered.
The Islamic Republic, which insists its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity, says it needs 20 percent fuel for the research reactor producing medical isotopes.
China urges agreement on Iran nuclear fuel proposal
China on Tuesday urged all sides to work towards agreement on an internationally-backed nuclear fuel proposal for Iran, after Western powers urged broader sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.
The comment was made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
Iran has said it remains open to a proposed nuclear world powers’ fuel exchange plan, which would remove the bulk of potential nuclear bomb material Iran has stockpiled.

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