Iran restarts conversion of uranium to oxide fuel
Iran has confirmed it has resumed the conversion of medium-enriched uranium into oxide fuel, slowing down the growth of its stockpile and creating more time for talks on its nuclear programme.
A foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said: “This work is being done and all its reports have been sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in a complete manner.”
Since Iran started making 20 per cent enriched uranium in 2010, international concern has focused on the possibility that it might ultimately make a nuclear bomb.
At the time of the last IAEA report, in November, Iran had produced almost 233kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium, but had diverted only about 100kg towards making uranium oxide fuel, which is much harder to enrich further.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the UN general assembly last September that Israel would not tolerate Iran accumulating enough 20 per cent to make one bomb, which Israeli officials defined as 240kg. Other international experts say it could take as much as 380kg.
The November IAEA report said the conversion process had stopped, raising fears that the stockpile could grow faster and closing the window for diplomacy.
A new IAEA report is due out which will show how fast the 20 per cent stockpile has been accumulating and how much has been used for fuel.
The next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers take place in the Kazakh city of Almaty on February 26th. – (Guardian service)