In an interview on the Iranian news channel IRINN, Ali-Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said that although his country had not planned to enrich uranium, it turns out that enriching uranium to 20% and converting it to fuel is not an issue. "We have stored enough [fuel] to run the reactor for two or three years," said Salehi in the April 3, 2014 interview.
Following are excerpts:
Ali-Akbar Salehi: Enriching uranium to 20% in Iran was not something we had planned, but when the foreigners refused [to provide] it and imposed conditions, we said: Fine, we will do it ourselves. Neither we nor the others believed that we could do that. The conditions were such that we were not ready for such a thing. We did not believe we could enrich to 20% ourselves and convert it to fuel.
[It turns out that] enriching uranium to 20% is not a problem because we have already begun enrichment. Enriching uranium to 20% is not an issue. Today, we are capable of enriching uranium to any level: 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%.
Once you have begun enrichment, the level is not an issue. So we began examining various processes – something we had not done until then. We began this right here, next door. I gathered all the engineers – the metallurgical engineers, the nuclear engineers, the chemical engineers – and other officials. We met on a weekly basis.
So far, we have enriched to 20%, and we have stored enough [fuel] to run the reactor for two or three years. It's like a car – if you drive it a lot, the fuel will run out quickly, and if you drive it a little, the fuel supply will run out more slowly. It is the same with the reactor – if you use it every day… Today, we have a fuel supply that will last for two or three years.