The Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the atomic chief today to enrich uranium to 20 per cent, in a fresh challenge to world powers days after appearing to accept a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal. Mr Ahmadinejad blamed the world powers for the stalemate over the fuel deal, but left the door open for possible negotiation over the proposal. He also insisted that world powers "unconditionally" accept exchanging Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) for high purity 20 per cent enriched uranium to be used as nuclear fuel for the Tehran reactor which makes medical isotopes.
"I had said let us give them (world powers) two to three months and if they don't agree, we would start ourselves," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech at an exhibition on laser technology which was broadcast live on state television. "Now Dr (Ali Akbar) Salehi, start to make the 20 per cent with the centrifuges," the hardliner told the atomic chief, who was sitting in the audience. He also said that Iran now had laser technology which can enrich uranium to any level but Tehran would resort to using centrifuges -- the device which rotates at supersonic speed -- for processing high purity uranium.
Mr Ahmadinejad's latest statement comes after he indicated in an interview on state television last Tuesday that Iran was ready to send its LEU abroad for conversion into 20 per cent nuclear fuel. *AFP