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Regarding “Iran’s move ups tensions,” Gazette-Times, page B5, July 4: The Associated Press AP reporters wrote about Iran's “enrichment of uranium to 3.67% ... far below the 90% needed for weapons.”

Uranium enrichment is likely an opaque subject for many readers. Uranium enrichment means the removal of the isotope, uranium (U)-238, from a sample of naturally occurring uranium, resulting in a smaller sample but containing a higher percentage of the fissile isotope, U-235.

For nuclear bomb grade, 90% enriched uranium, 99.94% of the original U-238 must be removed. For 3.67% enrichment 81.2% of the U-238 is removed. In short, Iran can convert its current 3.67% uranium to nuclear bomb grade by removing just the additional roughly 18.7% of the original U-238.

For 20% enrichment, which will be in the news soon, 97.2% of the U-238 is removed.

The above remarks are not a criticism of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was an international triumph of multilateral diplomacy joined by Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.  Its immediate goal was to prevent or, at least, postpone an air power and missile attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel and/or the United States.

This goal was reached by Iran’s agreeing not to enrich uranium to bomb grade for 15 years beginning 2016. Now President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear deal, which is another instance of Trump’s insecure need to repeal any U.S. agreements connected to President Barack Obama.

Leo Quirk

Corvallis (July 4)

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