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memri
November 1, 2009 No.
2605

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Advisor: 'Circumstances May Arise Under Which Iran Will Require Uranium Enriched to 63%'

Talks began today, October 19, 2009, in Vienna between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency about the proposal made a few weeks ago by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in advance of the October 1, 2009 talks between Iran and the 5+1 in Geneva. The proposal states that Iran will hand over its uranium, already enriched in Iran to a low level, to a third country that will further enrich it to a level of 20%, for use at the Tehran research reactor.

According to the Iranian news agency Fars, the U.S. delegation to Vienna is examining ways of officially declaring U.S. recognition of Iran's right to enrich uranium on its own soil - but this shift in the U.S.'s direction is encountering opposition from the European representatives. [1]

Abolfazl Zohrehvand, advisor to Iranian Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili, told the Iranian news agency IRNA that "Circumstances may arise under which Iran will require uranium enriched to 63%, which it will have to either purchase or manufacture itself under IAEA supervision." [2]

Sources close to the talks in Vienna told Press TV that Iran has now withdrawn Ahmadinejad's proposal to transfer Iran's enriched uranium to a third country for further enrichment, and is presently demanding to directly purchase uranium enriched to 20% from France, Russia, or the U.S. [3]

Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization spokesman Ali Shirzadian reiterated Iran's position from two weeks ago, i.e. that if the Vienna talks fail, Iran will inform the IAEA of its intent to begin enriching uranium to 20% for use in its Tehran research reactor. He added that the current talks in Vienna dealt only with this research reactor, and that Iran would continue the enrichment activities in its nuclear facilities as usual. [4]

Uranium enrichment to a level of 5% is recognized by the IAEA and permitted, under its supervision, for purposes of generating electricity. So far, however, the U.S. has not officially recognized Iran's right to enrich uranium to any level, since it is designated a "suspect state."

Iran seems to be working in steps to attain the status of a nuclear threshold state. First, it aims to obtain overall international recognition of its right to enrich uranium to at least 5%, on its own soil and on an ongoing basis. At the same time, it aims to attain international legitimacy for its demand to enrich uranium to 20% or more, with or without consent. The next step will apparently be a demand for uranium enriched to 63%.

Endnotes:

[1] Fars (Iran), October 19, 2009.

[2] IRNA (Iran), October 18, 2009.

[3] Press TV (Iran), October 18, 2009.

[4] IRNA (Iran), October 19, 2009.