Fordo to Produce Isotopes

Fordo to Produce IsotopesFordo to Produce Isotopes

Iran will soon launch the production of stable isotopes at the Fordo facility, the nuclear chief said.

Under the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, the Fordo uranium enrichment plant had to be converted into a nuclear, physics and technology center.

A ceremony was held in late May to mark the beginning of preparations for the conversion of the plant into a production facility for heavy isotopes in cooperation with Russia.   

"This is an enormous task. Ground was broken in Fordo several months ago, which received considerable coverage by the state media. Now we have reached the commissioning stage … It will happen within the next month," Ali Akbar Salehi said.

Salehi made the announcement in an interview with state TV on Thursday.

Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant is located 32 km northeast of the Iranian city of Qom, near Fordo Village.

Under the accord, formally referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran acceded to time-bound curbs on its nuclear program in return for relief from international sanctions.

However, more than eight months have passed since the action plan took force, but Tehran has yet to feel its full benefits. It is struggling to access financing from abroad, as most major foreign banks are holding back for fear of unwittingly violating vague, residual American sanctions that prohibit trade with Iran in dollars through the US financial system.

Iran has pressured the United States to do more to remove obstacles to the banking sector.

The US administration denies it has done little to address the issue, claiming it has gone to great lengths to clear up misunderstandings among banks and businesses.

Nevertheless, bankers and investors argue there is still little clarity on what trade could be done.

Salehi warned that continued US lack of commitment could lead Iran to abandon the JCPOA and engage in far more vigorous peaceful nuclear activities than before the conclusion of the historic agreement.

"I must warn that if [the Americans] continue to break their promises, we will not return to the same pre-JCPOA situation, but to a situation much different," said Salehi, who leads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

"Fortunately, preparations have been made to reach the uranium enrichment capacity of 100,000 SWUs [separative work units] in the event of [more] breaches by them."   

The Islamic Republic was enriching about 10,000 SWUs of uranium before agreeing to subject its work to restrictions.