Iran Says It Can Have 120Kg Highly Enriched Uranium Within A Year
Behrouz Kalahandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), told state television on Monday that Iran could produce 120kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent within a year. While this would take Iran further beyond the limits agreed by its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which limited enrichment to 3.67 percent, it would still be comfortably below the 196kg Iran held before the agreement.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent is considered Highly Enriched Uranium or HEU.
Iran’s leaders have said its steps beyond the agreement, taken since United States President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and imposed punishing sanctions, could be easily reversible if the US, as suggested by President-elect Joe Biden, returned to the deal, known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Kamalvandi reminded viewers that Iran produced a limited amount of 20% enriched uranium in 2009 as fuel for the Tehran’s research reactor. “We should have power plants,” he said. “We should be able to produce fuel for our power plants. And we should be able to produce our radio-pharmaceutical products. We need to be able to produce fuel for our nuclear power plants so that if foreigners fail to supply it for two years, we could be able to produce in Iran.”
Critics of Iran allege that 20 percent enrichment is simply a stepping-stone for the higher (90 percent) purity needed for nuclear bombs and that most civilian reactors use a maximum of 5 percent uranium. But a wide variety of countries without nuclear weapons enrich to 20 percent, either as limited-use fuel or medical, including cancer, treatment. Before Iran agreed in the JCPOA to suspend all enrichment beyond 3.67 percent, one proposal was for Iran to import 20 percent uranium from Russia rather than develop it internally.
Referring to the proposal from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to revive the 2015 deal, Kamalvandi cited Ali Akbar Salehi, head of AEOI, that Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme leader, had “allowed Iranian officials to take part in the talks in Oman although he was suspicious of Americans’ intentions.” This referred to talks between the administration of US President Barack Obama and Iran preceding the 2015 agreement, which was subsequently endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.
“The nuclear deal opened many ways ahead of us and it would be a mistake to allow UN resolutions to be issued against us,” said Kamalvandi. “Although our enemies will continue their enmity, it has to be said that we have become well experienced in dealing with the United States.”
Ali Rabiei, Iran’s government spokesman, told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday [January 12] that the US needed to “stop law-breaking and violation of its international obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.”
Rabiei said: “If the United States fulfils its obligations and lifts the sanctions it has imposed on Iran, the Islamic Republic will also return to the full compliance of its obligations.”
Rabiei said that reviving the JCPOA did not require substantial negotiations and ruled out any renegotiation of the agreement: “We have always said that if the US fulfils its obligations, we will fulfil ours. It is obligation against obligation. Our only message to the United States is: return to Resolution 2231 that is binding for everyone.”