Iaea: iran produces highly enriched uranium

Iaea: iran produces highly enriched uranium

IAEA spokeswoman gill tudor told dpa in vienna on monday. She added: "all nuclear material at the facility remains under the control and supervision of the IAEA."Guido westerwelle (FDP) criticized the uranium enrichment as a step towards further escalation.

Iran had announced the start-up of the uranium enrichment plant in fordo over the weekend. The existence of the long-secret facility in an underground tunnel system was only admitted by the leadership in tehran in 2009. Fordo is the second uranium enrichment facility in iran after the main facility in natans.

Westerwelle declared that this would increase the international community’s concern that iran’s nuclear program was being used for military purposes. Iran must finally comply with its international obligations and stop uranium enrichment immediately. Otherwise "severe sanctions" are necessary. Westerwelle said he was confident that the next EU council of ministers on 30 june would be able to agree on the. January, new and tougher sanctions against oil exports from iran will be imposed.

British minister william hague condemned the start of production as a "provocative act". The fact that iran is doing this secretly undercuts tehran’s assertions that the program has an exclusively civilian background, hague said in london on monday. Iran could not present any credible reasons why the country needed these quantities of highly enriched uranium. Hague called on tehran to halt production immediately. "I am extremely disappointed by iran’s decision to allow enrichment processes (…) to start," said hague.

West suspects iran of secretly working on nuclear weapons under cover of civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies it, but has not cooperated sufficiently with nuclear watchdogs in vienna for years.

IAEA chief yukiya amano had already confirmed in early september 2011 that centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium had been installed in fordo. Inspectors from the atomic energy authority visited fordo for the first time in october 2009. According to iranian statements, at least 3000 centrifuges are to be installed there.

Natural uranium contains only about 0.7 percent of the fissile isotope 235. For use in nuclear power plants, its concentration must be increased to 2 to 5 percent. Highly enriched uranium is said to be 20 percent and above. Tehran claims the material, enriched to 20 percent, is for medical purposes. Uranium of a much higher enrichment level is needed to build nuclear bombs.

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