Iran has recently converted more than 40 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium to fuel rods for use in a civilian reactor and is in the process of converting the rest, the country’s nuclear chief has announced on state television.
The claim aired by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was the latest signal from newly inaugurated President Hasan Rouhani’s government that Tehran is working to allay Western fears about its nuclear programs.
Rouhani last week moved to transfer authority from Iran’s religious hierarchy to his elected government for nuclear programs and international negotiations on their scope and transparency. The move was hailed by both the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and the six world powers that have been at work for the last two years trying to ensure that Iran isn’t preparing to build nuclear weapons.
The United States and its Western allies have been demanding that Iran cease enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, a level above that needed for civilian nuclear energy production and one that can be easily converted to weapon-grade fuel.
Salehi said Iran had recently reduced its 240-kilogram stock of 20 percent uranium to 140 kilograms, a 42 percent drop, by converting it to fuel rods for a medical research reactor. He also said the rest of the stockpile was being converted as well.