Saturday, October 01, 2005

Iran's uranium gas unusable for atomic fuel-diplomats

VIENNA, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A threat by Iran to resume uranium enrichment may have little substance behind it since Tehran has not yet mastered the technology to produce the high-quality gas required, Western diplomats say.
Iran sparked an international crisis when it resumed uranium processing last month, angering France, Britain and Germany -- which suspect Tehran of seeking a nuclear bomb -- into pushing for Tehran to be referred to the U.N. Security Council. The processing at Iran's Isfahan plant converts raw uranium "yellowcake" into uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6), which can then be enriched into fuel for power stations or nuclear bombs.
Diplomats said however that the quality of UF6 produced at Isfahan was so poor that it could not be used at Iran's massive enrichment site at Natanz.
"The UF6 is crap," said a Western, Vienna-based diplomat, who follows Iran's nuclear case closely. Another western diplomat was more diplomatic: "I wouldn't say it's garbage. But the UF6 produced at Isfahan is of such poor quality that if it were fed into centrifuges it could damage them."

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