Sanctions would only encourage enrichment - Iranian expert

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran has started the next stage toward building a nuclear bomb.

The IAEA says the Islamic state has developed a second set of centrifuges, which can enrich uranium to the 20 per cent threshold which experts fear can be turned into weapons-grade material.

If enriched to around 95 per cent, uranium can be used in building an atomic bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only.

According to Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of political science at the University of Tehran, 20 per cent uranium is nothing new to Iran and should not be a matter of concern for the West.

”I do not think anyone should be alarmed by latest Iranian drive towards uranium enrichment because 20 per cent uranium enrichment, which the world is hearing about, is not anything new,” he said. “Iran announced a few months back that it needs a 20 per cent enriched uranium for its experimental reactor, which was actually built by the Americans about 40 years ago, and it uses 20 per cent enriched uranium – it’s produced for radioactive medicine for cancer patients and for agricultural produce.”

”Iran was always provided the 20 per cent enriched uranium for this particular reactor by the International Atomic Agency, but because of the sanctions and because of the dispute between Iran and Five plus One, Iran has not been given the 20 per cent enriched uranium. So Iranians urge IAEA that either you provide us with the 20 per cent uranium or else we have no other alternative but to enrich uranium in Tehran.”

However, a senior fellow from London based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mark Fitzpatrick, maintains the matter is far more complex.

”It is not that IAEA provided the fuel for the research reactor,” he said. “It was provided by Argentina, specifically a commercial firm in Argentina. I think Argentina might have been ready to provide it, had not an Iranian intelligence operative been identified as a person involved in the bombing of the Jewish Center in Iran, and then that same operative then being named the defense minister.”

“Secondly, they can always obtain the medical isotopes that are produced by the Tehran research reactor from the international marketplace like most other countries do. They do not need to produce it themselves.”

Watch the interview with Mark Fitzpatrick