IAEA: Iran Makes Progress on Uranium Metal

Metal produced, will be turned into fuel plate

The IAEA has issued a new report on Iran’s plan to develop uranium metal, noting that they have successfully progressed through the third phase of a four-step plan to produce fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).

Iran has kept the IAEA informed on their intentions. The US has responded negatively to the reports, objecting to the idea of Iran making fuel for what ironically is an American-made reactor.

In the course of this, Iran took 257 grams of enriched uranium tetrafluoride and converted it to about 200 grams of uranium metal. That metal will in the future be turned into a reactor fuel plate for the TRR.

Enrichment for the TRR is considered controversial because the uranium is enriched to 20%, which is unusual these days. The reactor is from the 1960s, however, and Iran has so far not been able to replace it. The TRR is the source of radioactive isotopes for nuclear medicine for all of Iran.

Though the US objected to this process, Iran’s activity is being done entirely under IAEA oversight, and has no weaponization risk. The IAEA has offered multiple reports as the process proceeds, and the US tends to chime in with further objections despite Iran doing exactly what they’d announced in the first place.

The JCPOA nuclear deal is meant to have the P5+1 nations help Iran design a new reactor to replace the TRR. Before the deal Iran was working on a heavy-water reactor, though the US and other nations sought a redesign. The current status of the JCPOA makes progress uncertain.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.