"Tests are going on successfully" to make uranium hexafluoride gas, the feed stock for enrichment ... Associated Press
VIENNA, Austria - Defying a key demand set by 35 nations, Iran announced Tuesday that it has started converting raw uranium into the gas needed for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
"Tests are going on successfully" to make uranium hexafluoride gas, the feed stock for enrichment, said Iranian Vice President Reza Aghazadeh.
Of the more than 40 tons of raw uranium being mined for conversion, "Some... has been used," he told reporters.
His comments, outside the general conference of the 137-nation International Atomic Energy Agency was the latest sign that Iran was ignoring demands made on the weekend by the agency's board of governors to suspend all enrichment and related activities and banish international fears the technology could be used to make weapons.
Iran, which insists it needs enrichment to generate power, announced months ago that it had planned to "test" conversion techniques.
Even before Tuesday's announcement, the large-scale of the project - involving more than 40 tons of raw uranium - had heightened concerns that it is preparing for full uranium conversion beyond laboratory testing.
A resolution passed unanimously Saturday by the agency's governing board demanded for the first time that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment and expressed alarm at Iranian planned conversion of the raw uranium.
Suggesting that Iran may have to answer to the U.N. Security Council if it defied the demands, the resolution said the next board meeting in November would "decide whether or not further steps are appropriate" in ensuring Iran complies.