Tehran (AFP) July 11, 2010
Iran said on Sunday it has produced around 20 kilogrammes of 20 percent enriched uranium, in defiance of the world powers who want Tehran to suspend the controversial nuclear work.
"We have produced around 20 kilogrammes of 20 percent enriched uranium and we are working to produce the (fuel) plates," Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told ISNA news agency.
World powers led by Washington want Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity which they suspect masks a nuclear weapons drive, and on June 9 backed a UN Security Council resolution for a fourth set of sanctions on Iran.
Enriched uranium can be used as fuel to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
On Sunday, Salehi reiterated his previous claim that by September next year Iran will on its own "deliver the fuel for the Tehran research reactor."
He previously said that Iran has acquired the technical know-how to make the actual fuel plates which power the reactor, a claim dismissed by Western powers.
They say that the Islamic republic does not possess the technology required to convert the 20 percent enriched uranium into fuel plates for powering the reactor.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the refining of uranium to 20 percent after a swap deal, aimed at providing nuclear fuel for the Tehran reactor and drafted by the UN atomic body in October, hit a deadlock.
Brazil and Turkey brokered a counter proposal in Tehran on May 17 under which Iran would send its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for research reactor fuel to be supplied later.
But the world powers cold-shouldered that proposal and voted through a fourth set of sanctions, which had the effect of further tightening financial and military restrictions on Tehran.
On Sunday, in a separate report on ISNA, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was ready to talk with the so-called Vienna group over the fuel swap deal as brokered by Brazil and Turkey.
He said that the Vienna group -- comprising Iran, France, Russia, the UN atomic watchdog and the United States -- "has accepted" the presence of Brazil and Turkey in these talks.
Mottaki added that Iran has two options for getting the fuel -- through the swap deal or by producing it on its own.
"We are ready for whatever they (world powers in the Vienna group) choose," he said.
The Vienna group was formed to work out the fuel swap deal for the Tehran reactor.
earlier related report
Speaking on Thursday after meeting fellow Muslim leaders at a summit in Nigeria, the Iranian leader said no matter how many sanctions resolutions are approved, "there will be no minor change in our nuclear programme."
"Those resolutions are only paper," he said through a translator.
Ahmadinejad has been outspoken in his dismissal of the new sanctions, adopted by the UN Security Council and several Western governments, previously calling them a "used hanky which should be thrown in the dustbin".
But the head of Iran's atomic energy, Ali Akbar Salehi, acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that the measures "may slow down" its nuclear drive.
"One can't say sanctions are ineffective," Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying.
Ahmadinejad said certain conditions must be met before the resumption of stalled nuclear talks with six world powers.
Iran's demands relate to Israel's nuclear capability and the inclusion of yet-to-be-named countries in the talks, he said. Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.
He accused the so-called 5+1 powers of seeking to "weaken" Iran's position, forcing the country to defer the talks to punish them for their "very ugly and bad behaviour".
The 5+1 group includes the permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.
Ahmadinejad said the sanctions were also a bid to divert attention from the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May in which nine pro-Palestinian activists -- eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national -- were killed.
"They wanted to send a message to both Brazil and Turkey that nobody can act beyond the ... great powers of the world, and at the same time they wanted to overshadow the scandal created by the Zionist regime," he said.
Brazil and Turkey have sealed a deal with Iran aimed at facilitating a nuclear fuel swap with Russia and France.
Fresh UN Security Council sanctions were imposed on Iran on June 9, and both the United States and the European Union later took additional measures against Tehran unilaterally.
Western governments suspect Iran's nuclear programme is a cover for a weapons drive, something Tehran has repeatedly denied, maintaining it is aimed solely at power generation and medical research.
Ahmadinejad was in Nigeria -- which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month -- for Thursday's one-day summit of the Developing Eight (D-8) group in Abuja.
The Istanbul-based D-8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with a total population of 930 million.
After arriving on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad called the United States a global dictator and lashed out at Israel.
Ahmadinejad's speech on Wednesday evening in the West African country, where Muslims make up an estimated half of the 150 million population, drew a rapturous welcome from the crowd, which chanted "Nigerians support Iran".
The aim of the Developing Eight (D8) summit was to improve trade among members, and it was unclear whether the new sanctions against Iran were addressed in the closed-door sessions.
It ended with a call for member nations to speed up progress on a plan to liberalise trade between them and for more cooperation on energy issues, according to the summit's final declaration.
Leaders at the summit had earlier lamented the fact that little progress had been achieved on boosting trade.
"The D8 has not been able to fully attain its objectives," said Malaysia's deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
A so-called preferential trade area, "which was supposed to be the blue-chip of our economic cooperation, had only been ratified by two member states... Malaysia and Iran," said Yassin.
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Obama says Israel unlikely to surprise US with Iran attack
Jerusalem (AFP) July 8, 2010
US President Barack Obama said in an Israeli TV interview broadcast on Thursday it is highly unlikely the Jewish state would surprise Washington with an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "It is unacceptable for Iran to posses nuclear weapons and we are going to do everything we can to prevent that happening," Obama told Israel's Channel 2 television in the interview taped on Wednesday. ... read more
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