Iran Continues 20%Uranium Enrichment, Zarif Says
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his government hasn’t stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent purity as a parliamentary committee spokesman was quoted as saying.
“Iran continues to enrich at the level of both 3.5 percent and at 20 percent,” Zarif told reporters today in the South African capital, Pretoria. “This is under International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring.”
The U.S. and other world powers want Iran to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov suggested a 5 percent limit in an Oct. 21 phone interview. Iranian officials say the material is needed for a research reactor in the capital, which produces medical isotopes for cancer treatment.
Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, was quoted as saying by parliament’s website, ICANA, on Oct. 24 that Iran stopped purifying uranium to 20 percent after producing enough fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Zarif said that he believed Hosseini was misquoted and the statement was withdrawn.
Iran’s uranium enrichment has been at the center of a conflict with world powers, including the U.S. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel or if further purified to 90 percent can be used to build nuclear weapons.
Iran is holding talks with the IAEA to give the Vienna-based body wider access to monitor Iran’s nuclear program more closely. While several years of mistrust between Iran and world powers has to be overcome, Iran is participating in concurrent discussions with the U.S., Russia, China, U.K., France and Germany in “good faith,” Zarif said. The next round of talks takes place in Geneva on Nov. 7-8.
“We are not seeking nuclear weapons,” Zarif said. “We believe even the perception that we are seeking nuclear weapons is detrimental to our security.”