Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his country’s longstanding offer to halt the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent levels, provided that a source of fuel can be found for the US-built Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).
“To support our sick people, we had to produce 20-percent-grade fuel ourselves,” Ahmadinejad insisted. The TRR provides medical isotopes for nuclear medicine across Iran, and the fuel for the aging reactor was said to be running low.
Iran began production of the 20 percent uranium in small amounts in February, and has continued through today. Its ability to convert the uranium into the rods needed for the TRR remains very much in doubt, though they claim confidence that they can do so.
The February effort began because Western officials rejected a third party enrichment deal that would have allowed Iran to trade 3.5 percent fuel (used in its power plant) for the rods directly. Iran continues to insist that if they can revive that trade or find another source for the fuel rods, they will stop producing the 20 percent uranium.