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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 

AP: Iran enriches uranium for electricity, not bombs

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 2 hours, 11 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's nuclear chief said Wednesday that Iran has enriched uranium up to 4.8 percent — the upper end of the range needed to make fuel for reactors — as it continues to defy U.S. and European demands to stop enrichment.

Iranian technicians explains a  piece of equipment to a clergyman during an exhibition of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization at the Qom University in the city of Qom 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, May 2, 2006. Iran has discovered new deposits of uranium and is continuing its nuclear enrichment program despite international protests, a top nuclear official said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)Iranian technicians explain a  piece of equipment to a clergyman, right, during an exhibition of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization at the Qom University in the city of Qom 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Tuesday. Iran has discovered new deposits of uranium and is continuing its nuclear enrichment program despite international protests, a top nuclear official said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The announcement by nuclear chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh tops Iran's declaration last month that it had surpassed the 3.6 percent purity level. Uranium enriched to between 3.5 and 5 percent is used to make fuel for reactors to generate electricity.

Enriched to more than 90 percent, it becomes suitable for use in nuclear weapons. Aghazadeh added that Iran has no intention of enriching uranium beyond 5 percent.

International Atomic Energy Agency officials in Vienna, Austria, said they had no information about the claim. The agency — whose inspection powers have been curtailed in recent months by Iran — said in a report sent to the U.N. Security Council on Friday that Iran's claim to have enriched small amounts to a level of 3.6 percent appeared to be true according to initial analysis of samples it took.

Wednesday's announcement, if true, is significant because it shows that Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the Security Council, which asked Tehran last month to cease all such activity because of fears it could be misused to make nuclear arms.

European nations, backed by the United States, outlined a planned Security Council resolution in Paris on Tuesday to give "mandatory force" to the atomic watchdog agency's demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

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