Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran will enrich its own
uranium to a higher level, rejecting Western demands that it halt the
In a speech Wednesday, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran will produce uranium enriched to 20 percent -- a level of purity Iran says is required for a medical research reactor.
The enrichment process is the same for creating weapons-grade uranium, which requires about 90 percent purity.
Tehran rejected a deal brokered by the United Nations nuclear agency aimed at limiting Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon.
The plan, backed by Western nations concerned about Iran's nuclear program, would have had Iran ship its low-enriched uranium abroad for processing up to 20 percent.
The head of the (U.S.-based nonprofit) Institute for Science and International Security (David Albright), which tracks suspected nuclear proliferators, said Wednesday that Iran would be 90 percent on the way to producing weapons-grade uranium once it begins enriching the material at a higher level.
The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution last week censuring Iran for building a second uranium enrichment facility, in addition to its one working plant (in Natanz).
Tehran responded by saying it would build 10 more enrichment facilities.
The United States and Israel have expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear capabilities, and have not ruled out the possibility of using military action to stop the Islamic Republic from creating a weapon.
But Mr. Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran's nuclear work will go on, and that Israel and its backers cannot, in his words, "do a damn thing" to stop it. He reiterated that Iran is no longer willing to negotiate with the international community over any aspect of its nuclear program.