Source: Fars News Agency, Tehran
Iran announced on Tuesday that it would continue enriching uranium to the level of 20% and would produce the nuclear fuel needed for the Tehran research reactor within the next one year.
Ali Akbar Salehi
"We have produced 25 kg of uranium with the purity level of 20
percent so far and we will produce fuel for the Tehran reactor in one year,"
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said.
"Iran will continue enriching uranium to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor which is used for medical purposes," he told the al-Alam news channel.
Asked if Tehran is ready to discuss suspension of its 20%-uranium enrichment activities if it is provided with the needed fuel for the Tehran research reactor, Salehi said, "We had announced from the beginning that we did not intend to enrich uranium to the level of 20% and the entire world knows that."
"(But when) we sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency last year in a bid to supply fuel for the Tehran reactor, the countries which could produce the fuel laid down unacceptable conditions before us," Salehi lamented.
After Iran announced to the IAEA last year that it had run out of nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran, the Agency proposed a deal according to which Iran would send 3.5%-enriched uranium and receive 20%-enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
The proposal was first introduced on October 1, when Iranian representatives and diplomats from the Group 5+1 held high-level talks in Geneva.
But France and the United States, as potentials suppliers, stalled the talks soon after the start. They offered a deal which would keep Tehran waiting for months before it could obtain the fuel, a luxury of time that Iran could not afford as it is about to run out of 20-percent-enriched uranium.
The Iranian parliament rejected the deal after technical studies showed that it would only take two to three months for any country to further enrich the nuclear stockpile and turn it into metal nuclear rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, while suppliers had announced that they would not return fuel to Iran any less than seven months.
Iran then put forward its own proposal that envisaged a two-staged exchange. According to Tehran's offer, the IAEA would safeguard nearly one third of Iran's uranium stockpile inside the Iranian territory for the time that it took to find a supplier. The western countries opposed Tehran's proposal.
After West's opposition to Iran's proposal, Iranian, Brazilian and Turkish officials on May 17 signed an agreement named the 'Tehran Declaration' which presented a solution to the longstanding standoff between Iran and potential suppliers of nuclear fuel. According to the agreement, Iran would send some 1200 kg of its 3.5% enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for a total 120 kg of 20% enriched fuel.
But again the western countries showed a negative and surprising reaction to the Tehran Declaration and sponsored a sanctions resolution against Iran at the UN Security Council instead of taking the opportunity presented by the agreement.
Russia, France, and the US, in three separate letters, instead of giving a definite response to the Tehran Declaration, raised some questions about the deal, and the US took a draft sanctions resolution against Iran to the UN Security Council, which was later approved by the Council.
Iran in a letter responded to the questions raised by the Vienna Group on the Tehran Declaration and voiced its preparedness to hold talks.
In a later move, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano proposed a plan to resume talks between the two sides, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced Tehran's agreement with Amano's proposal days later.
"Iran is ready to take part in the meeting brokered by Amano," Mottaki said.
He referred to Iran's letter to Amano in which the country had declared its readiness for talks with the Vienna Group and said, "Mr. Amano has forwarded the letter to other members of the group and it seems that he is arranging for holding the meeting."
Mottaki said that the country wants to determine and approve details of fuel swap through talks with Vienna Group.
Finally, earlier this month, Salehi said that talks between Tehran and the Vienna Group over the supply of nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor would hopefully take place in weeks.
"The three states of Russia, France and the US, in their response to Iran's letter, have announced their readiness for holding a technical meeting about the details of the fuel swap on the basis of the 'Tehran Declaration'," he said on the sidelines of a visit to Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
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