Iran Resumes Some Conversion of Sensitive Uranium

Envoys said Iran apparently has again started changing higher-purity uranium to a form less easily made into nuclear-weapon fuel, and boosting the effort might delay past June the point when the nation is expected to amass enough of the more sensitive material for a bomb, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last fall said Iran was on track to stockpile sufficient 20 percent-enriched uranium by the middle of this year to rapidly produce fuel for a single bomb if it chose to do so. Tehran, which insists its nuclear program is strictly peaceful, previously moved in 2012 to change a portion of its 20 percent uranium into medical reactor fuel.

Tehran has continued manufacturing higher-purity uranium and has altered only a limited quantity of the material to date, according to envoys tied to the International Atomic Energy Agency. An IAEA safeguards report anticipated this month could yield further details on Iran's reactor fuel production, according to Reuters.

Pushing the "red line" past June could allow more time for negotiations. Another round of talks between Iran and six major powers is scheduled for Feb. 26, but there are doubts about the potential for significant progress ahead of the Iranian presidential election in June.

"The international community is ready to respond if Iran comes prepared to talk real substance and to address the concerns, which could not be more clear, about their nuclear program," Agence France-Presse quoted new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as saying on Friday. "If they don't, then they will choose to leave themselves more isolated. That's the choice."

Washington could allow for discussions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by ending its attempts at coercion, the leader said on Sunday in remarks reported by the Associated Press.

Netanyahu on Sunday said "Iran's attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons" would be among the subjects he would discuss in a planned meeting with President Obama, Reuters reported.

February 11, 2013
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Envoys said Iran apparently has again started changing higher-purity uranium to a form less easily made into nuclear-weapon fuel, and boosting the effort might delay past June the point when the nation is expected to amass enough of the more sensitive material for a bomb, Reuters reported on Sunday.

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