Iran Joins Elite Heavy Isotope Producers
Iran has become the fourth country to join the fold of elite heavy isotope producers after signing s deal with Moscow to convert the Fordo uranium enrichment plant into a production facility for the strategic material, a nuclear official said.
Asked about his recent trip to Russia in a talk with IRNA on Friday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said two documents of cooperation, namely one on stable isotopes and the other on a roadmap for fuel production, have been signed with Russia.
"The signed deal [on isotopes] makes Iran the fourth country capable of producing stable isotopes. They have medical and industrial applications and are already produced in Russia and the United States, and by Eurenco," he said.
The project to convert the Fordo site is aimed at completing one of the curbs Iran accepted on its nuclear program under the July 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers, including Russia, in return for relief from international sanctions.
It stipulated that the Fordo uranium enrichment plant had to be converted into a nuclear, physics and technology center.
The nuclear accord calls for "international collaboration, including in the form of scientific joint partnerships, in agreed areas of research".
Kamalvandi underlined the importance of the roadmap deal, noting that developing the capability to produce nuclear fuel was the ultimate goal of the Islamic Republic's uranium enrichment activities, which led to the imposition of sanctions in the first place.
Highlighting Russia's status as a top fuel producer, he said, "The signed document is very important because it allows us to cooperate with a country that accounts for half of the enrichment conducted in the world."
Iran began preparations for the project in late May 2016, which requires adjustments to IR-1 centrifuges to make them into stable-isotope producing machines.
The Fordo nuclear site is located 32 km northeast of the Iranian city of Qom, near Fordo Village.
"Iran will redesign and rebuild a modernized heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on an agreed conceptual design, using fuel enriched up to 3.67%, in a form of an international partnership that will certify the final design. The reactor will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production for medical and industrial purposes," the nuclear accord said.
Curbs on Tehran's nuclear program included uninstalling two-thirds of nearly 19,000 centrifuges at Fordo and Natanz facilities.