Iran says needs 20 nuclear sites: report

Sat Dec 5, 2009 8:07am EST
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By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it needed 20 uranium enrichment plants to provide fuel for its nuclear power plants, an announcement likely to heighten tension with six major powers over the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions.

"To provide fuel for our nuclear power plants, we need to have 20 uranium enrichment plants," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, as saying.

In a defiant response to last week's International Atomic Energy Agency vote rebuking Iran for building a second enrichment plant in secret, Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more sites like its Natanz underground one monitored by the


Iran has one nuclear power plant, under construction by Russia. Analysts say Iran will need many years if not decades for such a major expansion of its enrichment capability.

The IAEA resolution urged Iran to stop all activities related to enrichment, allow unfettered IAEA inspections and guarantee it is not hiding more sites.

Western powers have warned Iran it is rapidly approaching an end-of-year deadline to accept a U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel deal which calls on Tehran to send 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) from Natanz to Russia and France to be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.

The proposal to farm out most of Iran's LEU reserves is aimed at minimizing the risk of the country refining the material to the 80-90 percent grade suitable for a bomb.   Continued...