Iranian AEO chief Fereydoon Davani has announced today that the Iranian government intends to build four or five nuclear research reactors over the “next few years.” The hope is that one of the reactors will be online within five years.
Research reactors are much smaller scale than the energy generation plants like Bushehr, and are primarily used for industrial purposes or the creation of medical isotopes. Iran currently has one such reactor, the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), which is a 5 MW plant built by the United States in 1967.
The TRR is aging, however, and the hope is likely to phase it out once a replacement reactor comes online. The new reactors are expected to use similar 20% enriched uranium for fuel, and Davani says Iran will continue with its small scale production of such uranium.
While the move is being spun as provocative by some, it might be a step toward a conciliatory agreement on third party enrichment. One of the major knocks on the Western proposed deals were the demand that the deal include far more fuel than the TRR could ever use before its end of life. If Iran succeeds in building the new reactors they will be able to accept the larger amount of fuel rods and have a use for them.
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