7 Jun 2010 22:44

Russian nuclear industry chief voices disquiet about Iran

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) - The head of the Rosatom corporation, regulator of Russia's nuclear industry, criticized Iran for seeking 20% enrichment for its uranium.

"Iran is, after all, taking its second step and moving on to 20% enrichment, which is bad because it is my point of view - it is my personal point of view - that it is not a very strongly motivated move on the part of Iran. Iran has had the opportunity of 20% enrichment for its uranium outside the territory of the country," Sergei Kiriyenko told Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy.

The world community had given Iran an opportunity to have its uranium enriched abroad, Kiriyenko said. If Iran sends its uranium abroad, "either it will be upgraded to 20% uranium or it will simply be exchanged for 20% uranium," he said.

"We don't care where that fuel gets 20% enrichment as long as this doesn't happen in Iran. The key question is this: Iran today possesses facilities for uranium enrichment to between 3.5% and 4%, which is what is needed for energy reactors. If they stop at that, the world isn't worrying because they haven't taken the next step to 90% weapons-grade uranium. If they've taken a step to 20%, which keeps their research reactor running, it's half a step to weapons-grade uranium, and this is alarming," Kiriyenko said.