“Status, feasibility of Iran’s uranium enrichment claims unclear”

“Status, feasibility of Iran’s uranium enrichment claims unclear”
February 5-9, 2010
     Iran’s new efforts to produce 20% enriched uranium at its Natanz plant may accelerate Western efforts to impose additional sanctions, French and British officials expressed doubt about Tehran’s ability to enrich the uranium and produce the fuel rods needed for the Tehran Research Reactor (Al Jazeera). ISIS concludes that Tehran has the necessary technical capability but will need time to overcome significant challenges, including a lack of experience with the fuel fabrication process. ISIS warns that if Tehran enriches its entire LEU stockpile, it could produce enough weapon-grade material for a “breakout scenario” in 6 months using a small facility that could elude international detection (ISIS).
     Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), said the enrichment would be halted if the fuel swap deal were implemented (Associated Press), but at the Munich Security Conference, foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki insisted that Tehran should be able to determine the quantity of LEU involved (New York Times). Tehran announced that the enrichment would be monitored by IAEA inspectors, but the agency said its inspectors at Natanz were not examining the new enrichment claims (UPI) and IAEA head Yukiya Amano expressed “concern” over Tehran’s decision (Reuters).
     In December, IAEO vice president Mohammad Ghannadi said Iranian efforts to produce the fuel domestically would face technical problems and would “never make it on time to help our patients”.
Al Jazeera | ISIS | Associated Press | New York Times | UPI | Reuters

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