Director of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereydoun Abbasi, said in Tehran today that Iran will not stop 20-percent uranium enrichment in response to external demands and pressures.
“Iran will not suspend 20 percent uranium enrichment because of the demands of others,” Abbasi said. “We will produce 20 percent enriched uranium to meet its needs and for however long it is required.” (ISNA/Reuters, 18 December)
Abbasi’s comments signal a tough bargaining position ahead of an anticipated meeting with the world’s six major powers. The West will reportedly insist on the halt of 20-percent uranium enrichment, the removal of the country’s existing 20-percent stockpile and the closure of its underground facility at Fordo that produces the higher-enriched uranium.
A spokesman for the EU quickly responded to Abbasi’s comments saying Iran must come to grips with increasing international disquiet over the ultimate purpose of its uranium enrichment program.
“Iran has to address the immediate key concern, which is the issue of 20-percent enrichment, by taking an initial comprehensive confidence-building step in this area, thereby creating space for more diplomacy and negotiations,” the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. (Reuters, 18 December)