The “red line” drawn against Iran’s civilian nuclear program by Israel was predicated on the assumption of Iran’s stockpile growing, and while Israeli officials have groused for awhile about a relative lack of growth, the latest announcement reveals a major decrease in the stockpiles size.
According to Iranian officials, their stockpile of highly enriched (20 percent) uranium, some 240 kg at its peak, has been cut nearly in half, down to just 140 kg, by a combination of increased use and decreased production.
Most of Iran’s enrichment program is at 3.5 percent, the level needed for its Bushehr power plant. The 20 percent uranium was an attempt to produce fuel rods for its aging, US-built Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), which provides medical isotopes to the entire nation.
That stockpile had been growing for quite awhile as Iran struggled to figure out how to make those fuel rods, but now that they have gotten the hang of it, the enrichment program seems to be slowly getting reworked back to 3.5 percent, since the fuel rods will likely be all the TRR can ever use in its lifetime.
Ironically, trading with Iran to get them to abandon the 20 percent enrichment as a confidence builder has often been discussed, but the reality is that with the fuel being used legally, the production is likely all but done anyhow.