|AP / Hasan Sarbakhshian|
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a ceremony at the country’s Narantz nuclear facility in 2009.
After days of confusion over whether or not Iran would reopen negotiations regarding its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered his country’s atomic energy agency to begin producing uranium for a medical reactor in Tehran. The United States quickly expressed disappointment over the announcement.—JCL
The New York Times:
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ordered the nation’s atomic energy agency on Sunday to begin producing a special form of uranium that can be used to power a medical reactor in Tehran, but that could also move the country much closer to possessing fuel usable in nuclear weapons.
The announcement Sunday came after several days of conflicting signals from Mr. Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials about whether they were ready to reopen negotiations about giving up much of their country’s fuel in exchange for enriched uranium from another country. The exchange would allow Iran to meet some of its energy needs, but would ease fears in the West because the fuel sent to Tehran would be in a form that would be very difficult to use in a bomb.
The deal fell apart when it was rejected by the leadership in Tehran.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s order on Sunday may represent nuclear gamesmanship; it is unclear if the country has the capacity to enrich its fuel to roughly 20 percent, from about 5 percent, as Mr. Ahmadinejad was ordering. Doing so would require retooling the configuration of the nation’s centrifuges at a moment when Iran appears to have run into considerable technical difficulties at its nuclear plants.