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Iran expanding enrichment work

31 May 2010 16:21

The International Atomic Energy Agency has praised Iran’s cooperation with its inspectors but voiced concern about Tehran’s enrichment activities.

Reuters, quoting a confidential IAEA report, said Iran has added a second set of centrifuges for higher-level uranium enrichment.

Iran has told the IAEA that the extra machines, which are not yet operational, will be used for enriching uranium up to the level of 20 percent, Reuters said, citing the IAEA report.

The report said Iran has allowed UN inspectors better oversight at the enrichment site but added that more cooperation was needed “in clarifying outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program.”

Several IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear program have confirmed the non-diversion of nuclear material in Iran.

AFP also quoted the report as saying that Iran had produced at least 5.7 kilograms (12.5 pounds) of highly-enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor as of early April.

“On April 7 2010, Iran withdrew 5.7 kilograms of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) from the first cascade” at its pilot fuel enrichment plant in Natanz, the IAEA report said.

“According to Iran, this UF6 was enriched to 19.7 percent.”

Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says it needs higher-enriched uranium for producing medical radioisotopes at the Tehran research reactor.

In its latest to build confidence over its nuclear program, Iran agreed earlier in May to send about half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel rods for the research reactor.

However, only a day later, the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — agreed on a US-proposed draft resolution for further sanctions against Iran.

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