FM: Iran to Enrich Uranium Metal for Peaceful Purposes
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry in a statement underlined that the country intends to produce enriched uranium metal for peaceful goals, including application in Tehran’s research reactor that produces radioisotopes for medical purposes.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh made the remarks on Wednesday, a day after announcement of the prospect by Iran's representative to the international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Qaribabadi. The envoy described the end product as uranium silicide plate enriched to 20-percent purity level.
Khatibzadeh’s comments were meant as a reaction to an earlier joint statement by the UK, France, and Germany, which repeated their alleged “concerns” about Iran’s nuclear activities.
He refuted the statement, saying, “In line with standing procedures, we have [already] informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about this issue (the production process).”
“Contrary to these countries’ claims, this product enjoys peaceful, pharmaceutical, and humanitarian applications, and its production is in no way contradictory to Iran’s [nuclear] non-proliferation and safeguards commitments,” Khatibzadeh said.
The production process is part of the remedial nuclear measures that Iran began to take in 2018, a year after the US left a historic multilateral nuclear agreement with the country and others.
Washington then returned its illegal sanctions against Iran. The European trio bowed to the bans by stopping their trade with Tehran.
Khatibzadeh reminded that the European states were accusing Iran of violating its duties under the nuclear deal—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—while they, themselves, had never “gone beyond words” in implementing their own obligations.
“The countries have aligned themselves with the US’s oppressive pressure, enforcing the American extra-territorial and illegal sanctions,” he said.
The spokesman also addressed the US State Department’s similar incessant criticism of the Islamic Republic, calling it “unacceptable.”
He underlined that the “status quo” surrounding the JCPOA had come about as a result of the US’s own unlawful and unilateral steps, saying President Joe Biden’s administration had been keeping up predecessor Donald Trump’s “defeated maximum pressure policy” against the Iranian people.
“No one should except Iran to unilaterally observe its JCPOA commitments, while it is under tremendous pressure from the sanctions,” Khatibzadeh said.
The official, however, repeated the country’s assertion that it would stop its remedial measures and restore its cooperation with the IAEA to how it used to be, as soon as the sanctions were lifted.
Qaribabadi said on Tuesday that his country intends to produce enriched uranium metal in the near future, adding that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been informed of Iran's plan.
He added that the uranium silicide plate enriched to 20 percent purity would be used as fuel for a research reactor in the capital, Tehran.
"Research and development regarding this issue with natural uranium began about three months ago. In the new process, a new fuel plate will be produced using 20 percent enriched uranium,” he told reporters.
“This measure, which will significantly improve the quality and quantity of radiopharmaceutical production, will make the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the leading countries in the field of nuclear technology,” the Iranian diplomat added.
Qaribabadi also stressed that IAEA had been informed of the Tehran’s move nine days earlier and the relevant operations had begun right afterwards.
He described the silicide plate as a modern type of nuclear fuel whose technology is only available to a handful of countries.
The IAEA said in a statement on Tuesday that Iran intends to use domestically enriched uranium (U-235) with 20 percent purity as fuel in the Tehran reactor.
"Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U-235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at a plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel," the statement said.
The IAEA also said the process would be a multi-step measure, suggesting that it would take much time.
The US, under former president Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew participation in the agreement and re-imposed sanctions against Iran, which the accord had lifted.
The Trump administration subsequently launched what it touted as a campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, hoping to force the Islamic Republic to accept large-scale limits on its nuclear program and missile work, among other things.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has verbally renounced that policy and admitted to its failure, while expressing a willingness to return to the Iran deal. However, it has so far stopped short of taking any concrete steps to that end and retained the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.