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Envoy: Iran converting new batch of uranium

Iran has begun processing a new batch of uranium at its Isfahan nuclear plant despite U.S. and European pressure to halt all sensitive nuclear work, a diplomat said on Wednesday.
Two technicians adjust protective wear next to a box containing uranium ore concentrate at the Uranium Conversion Facility of Iran near Isfahan in this August file photo. Iran is said to have resumed processing activities there.
Two technicians adjust protective wear next to a box containing uranium ore concentrate at the Uranium Conversion Facility of Iran near Isfahan in this August file photo. Iran is said to have resumed processing activities there.Mehdi Ghasemi / Ap File / ISNA
/ Source: Reuters

Iran has begun processing a new batch of uranium at its Isfahan nuclear plant despite U.S. and European pressure to halt all sensitive nuclear work, a diplomat said Wednesday.

“Conversion has resumed,” the diplomat, who is close to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Reuters in Vienna. A spokesman for the U.N. nuclear watchdog did not confirm the information but said IAEA inspectors were in Isfahan.

Iran’s start to a new phase of uranium processing came despite a scheduled Nov. 24 meeting of the IAEA board on whether to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.

Iran had notified the IAEA in late October that it intended to process a new batch of uranium, but no date was given.

Accused by Western nations of running a covert atomic weapons program, Iran had frozen all work at Isfahan late last year under a deal with France, Britain and Germany.

But it resumed work at the plant in August, prompting the EU’s three biggest powers to suspend talks with the Islamic republic over its atomic project.

Iran covered up a uranium enrichment program for 18 years until 2003, drawing Western accusations that it has sought to build nuclear weapons. It denies this, saying its atomic work aims solely to generate electricity.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is to hand out a fresh report on inquiries into Iran’s nuclear program to the agency’s 35 member states Friday, setting the stage for next week’s meeting.