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Iran's plan for 10 new nuclear fuel plants 'laughably ambitious'

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Iranian leaders say they will halt plans to increase uranium enrichment if they receive higher-grade fuel from abroad, reports Iran’s Press TV. Iran would also require amendments to an IAEA plan regarding Iran’s ability to receive enriched uranium from abroad.

"Earlier, we made it known that Iran has a preference to buy fuel for the Tehran research reactor from abroad. The results were very disappointing since they were not willing to cooperate with us in this area,” he pointed out. “The basis for the proposal was to open the door to cooperation rather than confrontation. We waited for more than seven months and today (Sunday), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the AEOI to begin production of 20-percent [enriched] uranium that can be used to power the Tehran medical reactor,” he added.

Despite the bravado of Iran’s latest announcement, Al Jazeera reports that this next phase will be an achievement for Iran, but it will not “happen over night.” Presently, Iran enriches uranium to a level of 3.5 to 4 percent. Increasing enrichment levels to 20 percent will reduce Iran’s ability to enrich the lower-grade fuel. Additionally, Iranian scientists will have to change the capacity of 4,000 to 5,000 centrifuges.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne described Iran’s plans to have 10 new enrichment facilities operational within the next year as “almost laughably ambitious” given that it’s taken years bring the Natanz facility online and it still experiences problems. Rather than reflecting a major change in the country's nuclear capabilities, Mr. Leyne says the announcements are most likely Mr. Ahmadinejad politicking before antigovernment protests begin this Thursday on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic.

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