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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 January 2021

Iran tells monitors it is restarting fuel production for reactor

In response to US sanctions, Iran's parliament approved acceleration of nuclear activities

This handout satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies on January 8, 2020 shows an overview of Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, south of the capital Tehran.  AFP
This handout satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies on January 8, 2020 shows an overview of Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, south of the capital Tehran.  AFP

Iran said it would restart production of fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that runs on uranium enriched to higher levels to produce medical isotopes.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Iran were told of the country’s plans, according to a statement on Twitter by the country’s envoy, which was confirmed by semi-official Tasnim news agency. The Vienna-based IAEA confirmed that it had received the information.

Iran’s move is part of a broad suite of measures recently passed by the country’s parliament to accelerate nuclear activities in response to US sanctions.

The country said it is prepared to roll back those moves once trade restrictions are lifted.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to reassess the US relationship with Iran after taking office later this month.

A decision to turn its stockpile of 20 per cent-enriched uranium into metal plates for its research reactor would make it more difficult for Iran to further purify the material into weapons-grade materiel. The accumulation of enriched uranium is a long-standing concern among Iran’s neighbours in the Arabian Gulf. The country’s stockpile has swelled more than 10-fold after President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to jettison an international accord exchanging sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions.

This month, the Iranian government confirmed it was implementing an “anti-sanctions” law, ratified in December, reviving and promoting certain atomic activities to build pressure on the incoming Biden administration to lift key sanctions.

A January 4 statement on the government’s official website, dolat.ir, said that the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran would also take steps to establish a uranium metal production facility in Esfahan and “aim to have it operational” within months, as part of that law.

Updated: January 14, 2021 01:12 PM

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