Iran Produces More 20% Pure Uranium

Iranian scientists have produced 20 percent pure uranium to supply a nuclear reactor in Tehran.

Chana Ya'ar ,

Wikimedia Commons

Iranian scientists have produced 20 percent pure uranium to supply a nuclear reactor in Tehran, according to a report published Sunday by "The Nuclear Iran" website.

The enriched fuel plates will soon be loaded into the reactor, according to sources quoted in the report, which claimed the reactor is being used to produce radioisotopes for medical use.

Iran has "finalized production of the 20 percent-enriched fuel for the Tehran research reactor," the report said, due to reliance on domestic expertise and technology.

The news came in contradiction to an announcement Thursday by Iranian Parliamentary Vice Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, who had said Thursday the 20 percent-enriched nuclear fuel would be ready for injection into the reactor in two months.

However, by September Iran has already produced "around 70 kilograms" of 20 percent-enriched uranium, according to an announcement in late October by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

As far back as June, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh reported the Islamic Republic had produced more than 50 kilograms of the 20 percent-enriched uranium.

At that time, Soltaniyeh told the IAEA that Iran was working towards a goal of producing 120 kilograms of the fuel... "for the Tehran reactor."

The type of uranium used for nuclear weapons of mass destruction is generally enriched at levels that begin at 20 percent but usually are higher. However, it is possible to produce a nuclear warhead with 20 percent-enriched uranium, albeit a somewhat crude one, according to sources in the scientific community.

The IAEA has become increasingly concerned that Tehran is intent on creating an atomic weapon, and in its most recent report included evidence that Iranian scientists are involved in such a project. Israel has issued warnings about Iran's nuclear threat for at least five years.