Reports coming out of the IAEA indicate that only a tiny fraction of the nation’s uranium enrichment program has been converted to producing 20 percent enriched uranium. The international nuclear watchdog described the effort as modest in nature.
Iran began its efforts to produce 20 percent enriched uranium on Tuesday, following pledges over the weekend. Iran intends to convert the uranium into fuel rods for its US-built Tehran reactor, to produce medical isotopes.
Iran had previously been in talks with the international community on a third-party enrichment deal to obtain the fuel rods from abroad, but as its supply of fuel for the reactor runs low it is aiming for self-sufficiency. The Iranian government has insisted it holds out hope for a deal which would eliminate the need for their production of 20 percent uranium domestically.
The small scope of the new enrichment may harm Western efforts to convince China of the need for additional sanctions against Iran, and certainly does damage to claims that the plan is a plot to rapidly enrich its stockpile.