Iran Tells Monitors It’s Restarting Fuel Production for Reactor
(Bloomberg) -- Iran said it would restart production of fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that runs on uranium enriched to higher levels in order to produce medical isotopes.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Iran were told of the country’s plans, according to to a statement on Twitter by the country’s envoy, which was confirmed by semi-official Tasnim news agency. The Vienna-based agency confirmed that it had received the information.
Iran’s move is part of a broad suite of measures recently passed by the country’s parliament to accelerate nuclear activities in response to U.S. sanctions. The country has said it’s prepared to roll back those moves once the trade restrictions are lifted. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to reassess the U.S. relationship with Iran after entering office later this month.
A decision to turn its stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium into metal plates for its research reactor would make it more difficult for Iran to further purify the material into weapons grade. The accumulation of enriched uranium has been a longstanding concern among Iran’s neighbors in the Persian Gulf. The country’s stockpile has swelled more than 10-fold in the wake of President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to jettison an international accord exchanging sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions.
Earlier this month, the Iranian government confirmed it was implementing an “anti-sanctions” law, ratified in December, reviving and ramping up certain atomic activities in order to build pressure on the incoming Biden administration to lift key sanctions.
A Jan. 4 statement published on the government’s official website, dolat.ir, said that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran would also take steps toward establishing a uranium metal production facility in Esfahan and “aim to have it operational” within months, as part of that law.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.