Iran: Scientists Made Fuel Rod for Research Reactor

US-Built Reactor Provides Medical Isotopes

Iran’s state media has announced today that scientists have successfully produced the first domestically-made fuel rod for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), successfully tested it and have inserted it into core.

The TRR is an aging US-built reactor which provides medical isotopes for all of Iran’s hospitals. The nation had been running low on fuel for the reactor for years, and attempts to reach a deal to acquire fuel rods abroad have all ended in failure.

The TRR runs on 20 percent enriched uranium processed into specialized fuel rods. Iran has been enriching uranium to 20 percent in small batches since early 2010 in an attempt to create their own fuel rods.

Most of Iran’s enrichment program is targeted at the 3.5 percent level needed for energy production, and international officials have condemned the 20 percent, technically “highly enriched uranium” despite being well below weapons grade as a hostile action, claiming they didn’t believe Iran would be able to produce the fuel rods from the uranium at any rate. In the end, it seems they were able to figure it out.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.