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Ahmadinejad: Iran will enrich uranium to higher levels

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a ceremony at the Natanz nuclear enrichment site (archive image)
Iran has increased the international tension surrounding negotiations

Iran will stick to its plans to enrich its own uranium to a higher degree than at present, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday.

He said Iran would enrich uranium to 20%, despite international attempts to reach a deal to stop it, amid fears Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Negotiations have soured and Iran says it will build 10 new enrichment plants.

Civilian nuclear power requires uranium enriched to about 3%, but weapons grade uranium needs to be enriched to 90%.

Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely for civilian purposes.

Deal rejected

The nations trying to negotiate a deal with Iran suggested uranium enrichment for civilian nuclear energy could be regulated if Iran handed over its uranium Russia to manage the process.

The Zionist regime [Israel] and its backer [the US] cannot do a damn thing to stop Iran's nuclear work
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President

But Iran has rejected the deal saying it would only agree to a simultaneous swap of fuel within its own borders.

In his address to a crowd in the southern city of Isfahan on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad said that the countries it is negotiating with had imposed too many conditions.

He condemned as "illegal" a resolution passed last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency condemning its development of a uranium enrichment site in secret.

In what it said was a response to the censure, Iran announced on Sunday that it would build another 10 uranium enrichment sites, although experts say it is thought unlikely to have the resources to do so.

On Wednesday Mr Ahmadinejad said Israel could not "do a damn thing to stop Iran's nuclear work".

The US and Israel have refused to rule out military action if diplomacy fails.

'Mistake'

Russia, previously considered an ally of Iran, joined the vote at the UN International Atomic Energy Agency that condemned Iran for the cover-up of a second nuclear facility in the mountains near Qom.

In return President Ahmadinejad on Tuesday criticised Russia, saying it had "made a mistake" in condemning Tehran.

The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says the Iranians want to supply a research reactor with highly enriched Uranium following the breakdown of the international deal to provide fuel for it.

But some Western analysts say Iran does not possess the technical know-how to make fuel rods for the reactor, our correspondent says.

Six nations - the US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia - have been involved in co-ordinating the UN Security Council's position on Iran.

Existing UN sanctions are meant to prevent the flow of any items or technology which might aid Iran in enriching uranium or developing nuclear weapon delivery systems.

The sanctions range from actual sales or supplies to dealings with named individuals.



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