Iran has begun to enrich uranium to 60 percent purity. It is a response to nuclear terrorism on the part of Israel. Iran holds that country responsible for the power outages last weekend at the Natanz nuclear plant, where a number of new uranium centrifuges had just been put into operation.
“ We are now making 9 grams of the 60% enriched uranium per hour,” says a government official to state television. That rate will be reduced over time to 5 grams per hour, but at the same time the country will continue to produce uranium with a 20% purity.
Enriched uranium can be used for nuclear power or nuclear weapons. For nuclear energy, the uranium must be enriched at 4% or 5%. Starting at 60%, it is only a small step towards the required 90% or higher for nuclear weapons.
Iran denies that it is engaged in the production of nuclear weapons, but Iranian nuclear activities are a thorn in the eye of other countries. This week, the United Kingdom, France and Germany expressed all their “great concern” about Irans plans to increase uranium enrichment.
This week in Vienna we are talking to Iran about a new nuclear agreement. Iran hopes for relief of international sanctions in exchange for limiting the nuclear programme.
“ Enhancing uranium enrichment does not make these discussions any easier,” says an EU spokesman. It is not yet clear how long the talks will last. In a few days, there will be a short break so that the delegations can consult at home.