US Demands Iran Stop Nuclear ‘Escalations’

State Dept says 'no credible need' for uranium metal

The US has continued its trend of responding to IAEA reports on Iran’s civilian nuclear program with opposition, and a strongly exaggerated narrative. Tuesday’s statement demands Iran halt its “nuclear escalations” related to the conversion of uranium tetrafluoride to uranium metal.

Iran has been very forthcoming with details to the IAEA on what they’re doing and why, converting some of their stockpile of enriched uranium tetrafluoride into uranium metal. The conversion was successful, as the IAEA confirmed yesterday, and Iran’s next goal was to form the metal into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), their sole source of nuclear medicine isotopes.

The US narrative is that the Iranian creation of metal in and of itself is escalatory, because it conceivably could be used in a part of certain nuclear bomb designs. It should be noted that Iran is not using this fairly small amount of metal in any such way, and has made no attempts at producing weapons-grade uranium to try to build weapons in the first place.

State Department spokesman Ned Price went on to say that “Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal.” This is in spite of Iran being very clear about making fuel plates for the TRR, a US-built reactor.

Ultimately, whether Iran has a “credible need” to do something is not a decision that the US gets to make. The JCPOA deal says Iran can’t work on uranium metallurgy to contribute to a nuclear explosive device. Iran will argue that’s not what they’re doing here, they’re making fuel to legally run a reactor.

Indeed, the JCPOA was meant to ensure Iran access to fuel for the TRR without having to go to this trouble, and a redesign of a replacement reactor which would run on more readily available fuel. This was ultimately to be a redesign of a heavy water reactor Iran was working on.

Instead, the US withdrew from the JCPOA and has used sanctions to keep many nations from providing fuel for the TRR, forcing Iran to try to keep it running on their own. The redesigned reactor is similarly on hold, with no news on development in quite some time.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of