AEOI Plans to Expand R&D

AEOI Plans to Expand R&D AEOI Plans to Expand R&D

Iran intends to expand various aspects of its nuclear research and development program, including fuel and isotope production and fusion research, after the recent historic nuclear deal with major powers is put into effect within a few months, said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) concluded an agreement last month which will settle more than a decade of dispute over Tehran's nuclear program by granting Iran relief from international sanctions in return for constraints on its nuclear work.

Salehi said commitments under the pact do not involve any significant restriction on research and development.

"I would say on R&D, the apparent limitations that we have accepted, that we have agreed to, it's not really a limitation," he said in an interview with the Science magazine published on Wednesday.

"We would be working on different advanced machines. We would be working on the IR-8, on the IR-6. The IR-8 and IR-6 are the two candidates that could really meet our needs in terms of producing enough enrichment capacity to meet the annual needs of (the Bushehr power reactor)."

"And 10 years from now, we will have two other nuclear power reactors added to Bushehr. But using (the permitted) centrifuges, in 15 years we will be in a position to meet the fuel requirements of these reactors."

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the deal, Iran will continue enrichment research and development with uranium, but for 10 years it will only include IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges.

  Isotope Production

Commenting on plans to modify uranium centrifuges to produce stable isotopes with the help of Russian scientists, the AEOI chief said what has been agreed so far is that one of the two wings of the Fordo facility will be dedicated to stable isotopes.

Asked whether he could identify the type of isotopes to be produced, he said, "Yes and no. There are so many different isotopes, from light isotopes to heavy isotopes that you can produce."  

"We will have to do a feasibility study. If we go to very light isotopes, then the modification will be huge. For heavy isotopes, we do not need to modify that much. The project will be starting soon. Iridium could be a candidate or an isotope in the same range of weight," he explained.

Regarding the fusion research program, Salehi added, "We are one of the leading countries in West Asia working on fusion. This is my second time heading the Atomic Energy Organization. In my previous appointment, I made fusion our essential goal. It was given our highest priority because fusion is the future source of energy."