AFP: The United States said Friday it was “seriously concerned” by new reports that Iran is producing the uranium feedstuff that could be used to make nuclear weapons just days before it is due to introduce a promised ban on all such enrichment activities. AFP
WASHINGTON – The United States said Friday it was “seriously concerned” by new reports that Iran is producing the uranium feedstuff that could be used to make nuclear weapons just days before it is due to introduce a promised ban on all such enrichment activities.
The State Department was not able to substantiate accusations that Iran had converted 37 tonnes of uranium yellowcake into an unknown amount of uranium hexafluoride gas, but said if the allegations were true they would further erode Tehran’s already shakey credibility on the matter.
“Obviously, they are of concern,” deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. “If true, they would yet again raise serious concerns about Iranian good faith and intentions.
“These allegations only heighten our concerns that Iran continues to pursue nuclear activities and does not honor its commitments.”
Uranium hexafluoride gas is used as the feed to make enriched uranium Friday’s allegations from diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna came after Iran agreed on Sunday to suspend all uranium enrichment activities.
IAEA inspectors are aleady in Iran ready to verify the suspension of uranium enrichment which Tehran has said will begin Monday in accordance with the deal with worked out with EU negotiators Britain, France and Germany to defuse US charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
A US official said Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian had told the European trio that Iran would not convert uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas, or UF6, in the interval between reaching the agreement and its actually taking effect “but that verbal assurance meant nothing and this is clearly more bad faith by Iran.”
The IAEA reported this month that Iran had said October 14 that it had introduced 22.5 tonnes of yellowcake into the Isfahan facility but had not produced any UF6, news which reassured the agency.
UF6 is spun in cascades of what can be thousands of centrifuges into highly enriched uranium, which can be the explosive core for atomic bombs.
The total of 37 tonnes now in the conversion machines could produce a quantity of UF6 which would make about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of highly enriched uranium, enough for from four to six nuclear weapons.
The United States wants the IAEA, whose 35-nation board of governors is meeting about Iran on Thursday in Vienna, to report the Islamic Republic to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.
But Iran claims its nuclear program is strictly a strictly peaceful effort to produce electricity and agreed to a full enrichment suspension only as a confidence-building measure.