Iran Announces Yellowcake Uranium Breakthrough Prior to EU Talks
This week, Iran will meet with European Union negotiators about its nuclear program. Predictably, right at that time, the country announced it had the ability to make yellowcake uranium on its own.
Iran announced on Sunday that its entire nuclear fuel cycle is now self-sufficient.
With two-day talks beginning in Geneva tomorrow between six world powers and Iran, Iranian leaders say they want to deliver the message that the nuclear program will progress even with international sanctions.
Iran’s top atomic chief and vice president Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that for the first time the Islamic Republic had delivered uranium mined domestically to an Iranian processing unit.
Why, it’s almost as if that admission will strengthen their hand going into negotiations!
It’s hard to know what to take from the Iranians at face value. Most analysts believe that the yellowcake Iran purchased in the 1970s has been almost totally depleted. And so Iran is telling the world that isn’t true to keep their leverage. Basically they want everyone to know that sanctions will not stop them from continuing their nuclear program, which they maintain is for civilian energy.
US officials appeared to take Iran at their word.
The White House said the yellowcake announcement was the latest hint that Iran is trying to create a nuclear weapon. Michael Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said that since Iran’s uranium supply “is not enough for a peaceful nuclear energy program, this calls into further question Iran’s intentions.”
He said the announcement wasn’t a surprise, since Iran “has been trying to develop an indigenous program for years.”
The Geneva talks will probably focus on getting Iran to agree again to the fuel swap they supported earlier in the year. In this scenario, Iran would send its uranium abroad for enrichment, and have it returned to them for civilian nuclear uses.
This bit is interesting too:
Salehi also addressed last week’s attacks on Iranian scientists in the televised news conference, saying these also will not deter nuclear development. One was assassinated in Tehran and another was injured in a bombing. Iran’s intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi called the attacks terrorism and said that they were carried out with the support of the CIA, Israel’s Mossad, and Britain’s MI6.
“Assassination of Iranian scientists will not hamper our progress,” Salehi said, according to Iran’s Press TV.
Iran is flat-out asserting that the West is assassinating their nuclear scientists. Where’s the Wikileak on this one?
UPDATE: The Guardian describes the opening of Iran-EU talks as encouraging.