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Iran To Step Up Uranium Enrichment


The reactor building of Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. The photo was released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) in 2009. (AP Photo/ISNA,Mehdi Ghasemi)

Despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium, the Iranian government has announced plans to triple its capacity to enrich uranium to 20 percent.

Despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium, the Iranian government has announced plans to triple its capacity to enrich uranium to 20 percent.

Enriched uranium can be used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, or, at higher levels, can form the core of a nuclear weapon. After 2002, when it was revealed that Iran -- in violation of its international obligations -- had been secretly developing a uranium enrichment program for almost two decades, suspicions mounted that Iran's nuclear program was not of an entirely peaceful nature.

Since then, the Security Council has passed multiple resolutions, four imposing economic sanctions, requiring Iran to suspend its enrichment and other programs and cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.

At the June meeting of the Agency's Board of Governors in Vienna, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, said he had received information that pointed to a possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear program. "There are indications," he said, "that certain of these activities may have continued until recently." Mr. Amano urged Iran to "provide prompt access to relevant locations, equipment, documentation and persons."

The E3+3 group, which is comprised of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, issued a statement at the Board meeting, noting "Iran’s consistent failure to comply with its obligations under six UNSC resolutions and to meet deepened concerns raised by the international community with Iran’s nuclear intentions." The E3+3 reiterated Director General Amano’s call for Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA, especially noting that Iran must resolve longstanding issues regarding the existence of possible military dimensions to its nuclear program.

At a press conference in Washington with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Barack Obama said that if Iran continues to ignore its nuclear obligations the international community will have no choice but to consider additional steps, including more sanctions, to induce it to change course.

"Today Iran is virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system, and we're going to keep up the pressure," Mr. Obama said in a recent speech. "We remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

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