Iran uranium stocks enough for export
Iran rejects reports claiming the country is running out of raw uranium for its nuclear program, saying it has spare capacity for export.
Veteran Iranian diplomat Mahmoud-Mehdi Soltani said Wednesday that Iran's uranium deposits have not been kept confidential, adding that many of them were discovered prior to the 1979 Revolution - under the Shah's regime - by Western countries.
"Iran is not only capable of supplying fuel for the Bushehr nuclear plant, but can also act as a major exporter," the Iranian official added.
Exploration activities have shown proven reserves of about 3,000 to 5,000 tons of uranium in Iran.
Continued exploration efforts in the country led to the discovery of three new uranium ore sites in central Iran in 2006.
Deputy Chief of Iran's nuclear research and technology, Mohammad Qannadi said in 2006 that the resources were located in Khoshoumi region, Charchouleh and Narigan in central Iran.
The Wednesday comments on Iran's potential to export uranium came after a report by The Times cited diplomatic sources as saying that Iran's stockpile of yellow cake uranium, produced from uranium ore, is close to running out and could be exhausted within months.
The British newspaper said Britain's Foreign Office late last year ordered its diplomats in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil - all major uranium producers - to lobby the governments of these countries against the sale of uranium products, specifically yellow cake, to Iran.
The report came just months after Western intelligence claimed Iran had accumulated enough enriched material "for a bomb".
Western countries have confronted Iran over its uranium enrichment program, and imposed three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against the country.
Iran says it is seeking the nuclear technology for civilian purposes - such as generating electricity for its growing population.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has conducted seventeen snap inspections since March 2007 at Iranian nuclear facilities, also said in its latest report that Iran plans to fabricate low enriched uranium targets "for the production of molybdenum for medical purposes".
The U-235 content in natural uranium is over two orders of magnitude lower than that required for weapons grade uranium - a level above 90 percent.
Uranium enriched above the natural U-235 abundance - 0.72 percent -- but to less than 20 percent is called low-enriched (LEU).
The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed in its November and latest report that Iran has only managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level "less than 5 percent" (LED).
The level of U-235 in low enriched uranium is suitable for use in light-water nuclear reactors.