(Reuters) – Iran will press ahead with its uranium enrichment program, its nuclear energy chief said on Friday, signaling no change of course despite the victory of a relative moderate in the June 14 presidential election.
Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization, said production of nuclear fuel would “continue in line with our declared goals. The enrichment linked to fuel production will also not change.”
Speaking through an interpreter to reporters at a nuclear energy conference in St Petersburg, Russia, he said work at Iran’s underground Fordow plant – which the West wants Iran to close – would also continue. Iran refines uranium at Fordow that is a relatively close technical step away from weapons-grade.
Iran says it is enriching uranium to fuel a planned network of nuclear energy power plants, and also for medical purposes.
But enriched uranium can also provide the fissile material for nuclear bombs if processed further, which the West fears may be Tehran’s ultimate goal.
Abbasi-Davani said Iran’s so far only nuclear power plant – which has suffered repeated delays – had been “brought back online” three days ago and was working at 1,000 megawatt capacity. A U.N. nuclear agency report said in May that the Russian-built Bushehr plant was shut down, giving no reason.
“Thankfully in the last days, no concrete defects with the plant have been reported to me,” Abbasi-Davani said.