In comments published today in a Japanese newspaper, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his government’s repeated offers to abandon the 20 percent enrichment of uranium, provided that alternative supplies for their medical research reactor were found.
Iran began preliminary enrichment of uranium to 20 percent earlier this year, after talks to secure the fuel broke down. Though most of Iran’s enrichment is still tuned to the 3.5% needed for its energy generation program, the 20 percent enrichment has continued as the US has blocked efforts to secure fuel for the medical reactor, which provides isotopes for cancer patients in Iran.
But the US has recently suggested it might drop opposition to the fuel swap that would make the deal happen, insisting its previous opposition was only so they could get the latest round of sanctions. Talks are expected to start in mid-September at reviving the deal.
It is unclear how far along Iran currently is in its efforts to produce fuel rods for the US-built Tehran Research Reactor, but the fuel for the reactor was reportedly running low as of last year, and the need for a new supply seems to be growing.