200 Iranian hospitals depend on nuclear fuel

November 23, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN (Agencies) -- Iran’s ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog says over 200 hospitals in the country urgently need higher-enriched uranium.

As a timely reminder that obtaining higher-enriched uranium is a matter of great urgency for Iran, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that the fuel is required for the Tehran nuclear reactor, which is designed to produce radioisotopes used by Iranian hospitals for medical treatment, Press TV reported on Sunday.
He warned that if Iran’s proposal to purchase the fuel from abroad falls through, the country would have no choice but to enrich uranium to the required level of 20 percent ‘if it is forced to’.
“We need the fuel because more than 200 hospitals depend on it,” Soltanieh said in an interview with Der Spiegel published on Saturday.
A proposal put forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency requires Iran to send most of its domestically produced low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further refinement.
Tehran has accepted the basics of the proposal but has also sought certain modifications to the offer, saying for instance that it would not send its enriched uranium overseas to be exchanged for the required fuel rods.
In a counter-proposal, Iran has suggested keeping the LEU in a room sealed by the IAEA inside the country until the higher-enriched uranium arrives.
Under this proposal, the exchange would be completed in two stages -- 400 kg of Iran’s LEU would be exchanged with 58 kg of 20 percent-enriched uranium in each stage.
Soltanieh said the Western powers have yet to address Tehran’s concerns and provide it with “enough guarantees” for the fuel supply.
“The way we have been treated over the past 30 years, we have every reason to be mistrustful,” Soltanieh observed.
--------------------- Nuclear fuel must be delivered on time
The main issue in the talks is the necessity for the nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor to be delivered on time, Soltanieh told ISNA on Sunday.
In light of the fact that the Western powers have a history of breaking their promises, Iran needs to receive guarantees it will receive the 20-percent enriched uranium on time, he added.