As Iran in a sign of its resolve to pursue the Nuclear path announces finding huge Uranium deposits, Iranian youth are seemingly becoming more American in their outlook.
The state news agency IRNA quoted a report by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which said that the reserves were discovered in northern and southern coastal areas and had tripled the amount outlined in previous estimates.
There was no independent confirmation. Western experts had previously thought that Iran, with few uranium mines of its own, might be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium.
“We have discovered new sources of uranium in the country and we will put them to use in the near future,” Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying at Iran’s annual nuclear industry conference.
The timing of the announcement suggested that Iran, by talking up its reserves and nuclear ambitions, may hope to strengthen its negotiating hand at talks in Kazakhstan on Tuesday with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Diplomats say the six powers are willing to offer Iran some relief from international sanctions if it agrees to curb its production of higher-grade enriched uranium.
The West says Iran’s enrichment of uranium to a purity of 20 percent demonstrates its intent to develop a nuclear weapons ability, an allegation the Islamic republic denies.
The enriched uranium required for use in nuclear reactors or weapons is produced in centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas at high speeds. The gas is derived from yellow cake, a concentrate from uranium ore found in mines.
Iran’s raw uranium reserves now total around 4,400 tons, including discoveries over the past 18 months, IRNA quoted the report as saying.
In another sign that Iran is intent on pushing forward with its nuclear ambitions, the report also said that 16 sites had been identified for the construction of nuclear power stations. It did not specify the exact locations but said they included coastal areas of the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Khuzestan Province and the Caspian Sea.
The Iranian authorities have long announced their desire to build more nuclear power plants for electricity production. Only one currently exists, in the southern city of Bushehr, and that has suffered several shutdowns in recent months.
The announcements could further complicate the search for a breakthrough in Kazakhstan.
“We are meeting all of our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and we should be able to benefit from our rights,” Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, was quoted as saying at the conference on Saturday. We don’t accept more responsibilities and less rights.”
In what Washington has called a provocative move, Iran is also installing new-generation centrifuges, capable of producing enriched uranium much faster, at a site in Natanz in central Iran.