Uranium hexafluoride gas is the material that, in the next
stage, is fed into centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Associated Press
ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has converted a few tons of raw uranium into hexafluoride gas needed for enrichment, a necessary step toward producing nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, a top nuclear official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Uranium hexafluoride gas is the material that, in the next stage, is fed into centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Uranium enriched to low level is used to produce nuclear fuel to generate electricity and enriched further can be used to manufacture atomic bomb.
Iran said last month that it has started converting about 40 tons of raw uranium being mined for enrichment. It maintains its intentions are peaceful energy purposes.
"We have converted part of the raw uranium we had and produced a few tons of uranium hexafluoride gas," said Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency. He would not specify how much. A few tons of raw uranium would be converted into about the same amount of hexafluoride gas.
"We are not in a hurry to do it. The few tons of uranium gas we've produces is an experimental process, not industrial production," Mousavian said.
Mousavian, who also heads the Foreign Policy Committee at Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council, said the process was under full IAEA supervision.
"Every stage of the process is under full IAEA supervision. The agency knows of every milligram of uranium converted," he said.