Tags: Iran | nuclear | defiance | revolution

Iran Trumpets Nuclear Defiance on Anniversary

Thursday, 11 February 2010 09:03 AM

TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has already produced highly enriched nuclear material in defiance of the West, as his country on Thursday marked the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic revolution.

"The head of the atomic energy organisation said the first stock of 20 percent fuel was produced and delivered to scientists," he said in a speech at Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square before a crowd of hundreds of thousands.

However, a restricted document of the International Atomic Energy Agency which monitors Iran's nuclear work revealed on Thursday that the country would produce its first batch of higher enriched uranium "within a few days."

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano wrote in the one-page report that Iran had informed agency inspectors that it had "begun to feed the (LEU) low-enriched uranium into one cascade (of uranium-enriching) centrifuges" at its plant in Natanz.

"They were also told that it was expected that the facility would begin to produce up to 20 percent enriched (uranium) within a few days," according to Amano.

The IAEA head added that "it should be noted that there is currently only one cascade installed in (Natanz) that is capable of enriching the LEU up to 20 percent."

Earlier this week, Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the separate cascade was "more on a lab scale," suggesting its output would be limited.

"Why do they (world powers) think that 20 percent is such a big deal? Right now in Natanz we have the capability to enrich at over 20 percent and at over 80 percent, but because we don't need it we won't do it."

Ahmadinejad also said that at Natanz, where Iran has been enriching uranium despite three sets of UN sanctions, Tehran has the ability to manufacture several dozen kilos of LEU.

"They think it is such a big job to take some hundred kilos of 3.5 pct uranium out of Iran," he said, referring to a UN-drafted deal which proposes to take out Tehran's stock of LEU abroad in exchange for higher grade material.

"We are making several kilos of this in Natanz every day. In the near future, inshallah, our daily production will be tripled," said the hardline president whose country has been threatened with strong new sanctions.

Experts say that once Iran has enriched uranium to the 20 percent level, there is nothing to stop it carrying on to the 93 percent level needed to produce nuclear weapons as the technology is the same.

The West suspects the Islamic republic of using its nuclear programme as a cover for efforts to build the atomic bomb, a charge denied by Iran which insists the programme aims solely to meet its growing civilian energy needs.

Ahmadinejad stressed Iran was now a "nuclear" state which had nothing to hide and would not be bullied. "They (Americans) want to dominate our region but the Iranian people will never let them do that," he added.

The United States has stepped up the pressure on Iran since it announced on Tuesday that it had begun work to enrich uranium to 20 percent, which it says is for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Russia , Tehran's sole ally among the world powers which has traditionally resisted the threat of tough action, has this week hardened its stance in line with US, French and British calls for strong new sanctions.

But China on Thursday called for increased efforts to resolve the standoff through negotiations. "We hope all parties will step up diplomatic efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Also in his speech, Ahmadinejad lashed out at US President Barack Obama, whom he accused of squandering an opportunity to change Washington's traditional policy of support for the Jewish state.

"Unfortunately, the hope for change (in US policies) is in the process of rapidly changing to despair," he said, referring to hopes stirred by the election of the superpower's first black president.

"He (Obama) is missing opportunities and is not acting correctly," Ahmadinejad told the crowd.

On Tuesday, the US president pushed for a "significant regime of sanctions" unless Iran accepts international proposals aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions.

"Despite the posturing that the nuclear power is only for civilian use ... they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponisation, and that is not acceptable to the international community," Obama said.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Thursday, 11 February 2010 09:03 AM
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