Friday, February 19, 2010
IAEA confirms 20% uranium enrichment in Iran
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has produced its first batch of 20 percent enriched uranium at the Natanz enrichment plant.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in his first report on Iran that Iranian experts carried out the enrichment for producing nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor between February 9 and 11.
"Iran provided the agency with mass spectrometry results which indicate that enrichment levels of up to 19.8 percent (uranium) were obtained," the report says.
Iran announced on February 9 that it had started enriching uranium to the level of less than 20 percent to meet the country's fuel requirements for the reactor producing medical radioisotopes, after the potential suppliers failed to provide the fuel under a UN deal.
Two days later, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad formally declared that Iran had successfully produced the first stock of the 20-percent enriched uranium, a declaration which was met with cynicism in the West.
The report noted that Iran started enriching uranium to a higher level in the presence of IAEA inspectors.
"On February 10, when the agency inspectors arrived at the PFEP (Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant), they were informed that Iran had already begun to feed the UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) into one cascade the previous evening," Amano said in his report to the IAEA Board of Governors.
The report also verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.
"The information available to the agency is extensive… broadly consistent and credible in terms of the technical detail, the time frame in which the activities were conducted and the people, and organizations involved," the report said.
However, the IAEA called on Iran to further discuss and cooperate on alleged issues.
"Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," it added.
"Altogether this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," Amano said.
Iran has repeatedly denied it is working on sensitive nuclear materials and insists its uranium enrichment plants and other facilities are only geared toward civilian nuclear energy applications.