Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday ordered 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, a plan that one analyst called 'almost laughably ambitious.'
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Iran announced plans Sunday to escalate its nuclear program and begin enriching uranium to 20 percent, starting Tuesday. Iranian officials also said that 10 new enrichment facilities would be constructed within the next year.
Although 90 percent enriched uranium is required to make a nuclear bomb, the move has heightened concerns among western diplomats that Iran may be getting closer to producing weapons-grade uranium. However, given the challenges of meeting these new goals, many Iran analysts say that these latest announcements are most likely posturing by the government to appear more powerful as it prepares to battle anti-government protesters later this week.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said his country will notify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog, about its plans in a letter on Monday. Iranian officials continue to insist that their nuclear program is peaceful. Mr. Salehi said it needs the 20 percent enriched uranium for Tehran’s research reactor to produce medical isotopes, reports Xinhua.