Reuters: Iran has enriched uranium to more than 4 percent, an Iranian official said on Saturday, a level higher than Iran previously told the U.N. nuclear watchdog but still in the range used for fuel in nuclear power stations. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has enriched uranium to more than 4 percent, an Iranian official said on Saturday, a level higher than Iran previously told the U.N. nuclear watchdog but still in the range used for fuel in nuclear power stations.
Iran had told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in mid-April that it had enriched uranium to 3.6 percent, a level which the IAEA confirmed from samples it took.
Experts said uranium enriched to a range of roughly 3 to 5 percent is a low level used in atomic power reactors. Uranium would have to be enriched far higher, to 80 percent or more, to make nuclear weapons, which is what the West fears Iran wants.
“We have done enrichment in the range of above 4 percent,” Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, said on a discussion programme on Iranian state television.
He also repeated Iran’s position that it would not give up enrichment, describing it as an “issue of life and death for Iranian society” and saying the goal enjoyed broad support.
“It is up to Iran to decide if it will keep enrichment at a pilot level or move towards an industrial scale,” he said.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran will pursue large-scale enrichment in defiance of U.N. demands for suspending the sensitive nuclear work.
The world’s fourth largest oil exporter insists it has no military nuclear programme and says it wants to enrich fuel for nuclear power stations.
Western diplomats at the United Nations in New York have said they plan to introduce a resolution to the Security Council within a week giving legal force to the Council’s demands.
The United States, backed by Britain and France, support limited sanctions but the other two veto-wielding permanent Council members, Russia and China, are more guarded.
“I am sure that Russia and China will not support any draft that could lead to a Chapter 7 resolution in the Security Council,” Iran’s envoy to the IAEA in Vienna, Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, told the television programme by telephone.
A resolution adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter makes council resolutions mandatory under international law. Chapter 7 allows for sanctions or even war but a separate resolution is required to specify either step.
Western diplomats have said China and Russia were unlikely to veto a resolution, but may block any eventual sanctions.