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Iran says needs 20 nuclear sites - agency - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran needs 20 uranium enrichment plants to produce enough fuel for its nuclear power plants and has no plans to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

“To provide fuel for our nuclear power plants, we need to have 20 uranium enrichment plants,” IRNA quoted Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

In a major expansion of its nuclear programme, Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites like its Natanz underground one monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran said on Friday it will provide the IAEA with the bare minimum of information about its plan to build new sites, a stance sure to stoke Western suspicions about its atomic agenda.

Analysts say Iran will need many years if not decades for such a huge expansion of its enrichment capability. They fear that Iran’s insistence on sticking to notification rules the IAEA considers obsolete will allow Tehran to skirt the system, heightening the risk of Tehran being able to “weaponize” enrichment clandestinely.

Uranium enrichment can be calibrated to yield fuel either for nuclear power plants or the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

Iran says its enriched uranium will be only for electricity generation. Iran’s record of nuclear secrecy and lack of power plants to use low-enriched uranium has convinced the West that Iran is hiding a programme to develop nuclear weapons capacity.

Salehi accused the West of manoeuvring to make Iran leave the NPT.

“I think the West is trying to force us out of the NPT because they have noticed that we are so insistent on adherence to the NPT and this is not to the liking of the West,” Salehi said. “We have no plans to pull out of the NPT.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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