Iran’s ambassador to IAEA: Iran needs more 20 per cent-enriched uranium
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 28 / Trend D.Khatinoglu. S.Isayev/
Iranian Ambassador to International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Trend during an interview on Tuesday that Iran planned to launch new research nuclear power plants alongside the five- megawatt Amirabad Nuclear Research Centre in Tehran, then upping the enriching of uranium to a 20 per cent level will continue.
Western countries, alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doubt Iran's nuclear goals, accusing it of probable military dimensions of its nuclear programme.
So far, the UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of resolutions on Iran, asking it to halt its uranium enrichment programme and accept the additional protocol of a Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
IAEA issued its latest report on Iran's nuclear programme on Feb.26 claiming that the country has stepped up uranium enrichment.
Iran's 3.5 per cent enriched uranium reserves reached 95.4 kg, while its 19.75 per cent-enriched uranium reserves increased up to 5,441 kg, Mr Soltanieh said.
Enriching uranium increases the proportion of uranium atoms that can be split by fission. When uranium is produced, it consists of about 99.3 per cent uranium-238 and 0.7 per cent uranium-235. As uranium gets enriched, the density of isotope 235 raises. For making nuclear warhead uranium it should be enriched above 90 per cent.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Feb.15 ordered Iran to 'go build' four more nuclear research reactors in addition to the sole one operating in Tehran.
His remarks on state television came shortly after he led a ceremony in which Iran's first domestically produced fuel was loaded into a research reactor in Tehran.
Earlier Iran announced that it also has projects to construct 20 reactors to produce electricity.
Mr Soltanieh said: "We asked IAEA to supply the Amirabad nuclear research centre by 20 per cent enriched nuclear bars, but no member helped us get fuel, so we decided to produce a 20 per cent fuel and we did.
Swapping Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) with nuclear fuel to Amirabad reactor was offered by IAEA former chief Mohammad Albaradei in 2009.
According to his proposal, Iran should have delivered 1200 kg LEU to Russia and get 20 per cent fuel bars from France. The deal didn't happen.
Then, Iran, Turkey, and Brazil issued a declaration on May 17, 2010, according to which Iran was to ship 1200 kg of its LEU to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kg of 20 per cent enriched nuclear fuel to power the Tehran research reactor, but this deal also failed, because the U.S and Western countries did not support it.
According to the NPT's fourth item, the IAEA members are obliged to support other members with nuclear fuel. However the UN Security Council has adopted four rounds of sanctions on Iran and has banned any cooperation with Iran in the nuclear sphere.
"The Amirabad reactor needs fuel to produce produces radioisotopes for various kinds of treatments, but IAEA didn't help us," Mr Soltanieh added.
The Iranian 50-year old Amirabad reactor was supplied with 20 per cent enriched uranium fuel worth $5 million purchased in 1990 from Argentina last time.
Mr Soltaneih said that they purchased 120 kg 20 per cent fuel last time, but regarding the increase of patients who need radioisotopes and the needs of neighbouring countries to get isotopes in time, 120 kg of fuel will supply Amirabad reactor only for four to five years.
"On the other hand, we need more research reactors to produce more isotopes and then enriching uranium at 20 per cent will continue," he said.