Experts: Exporting low-enriched uranium from Iran is main problem in establishing Russian-Iranian nuclear consortium

Experts: Exporting low-enriched uranium from Iran is main problem in establishing Russian-Iranian nuclear consortium

Azerbaijan, Baku, August 27 /Trend, T.Konyayeva/

The main issue in the proposal to establish a Russian-Iranian nuclear consortium is not the possibility of its existence, but whether low-enriched uranium (LEU), accumulated in Iran, will be exported, or will enriched in the Islamic Republic, experts say.

"The idea of the consortium is good that it can be used to export the LEU that Iran will accumulate, the senior fellow at the Center for International Security at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences,Vladimir Yevseyev told Trend by telephone. Otherwise, it can accumulate in Iran so much that Iran in some time can decide to create nuclear weapons, enrich and achieve nuclear testing. Somehow it needs to export this LEU, and such a consortium can do it."

On Thursday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Tehran offered Moscow to create a consortium to produce nuclear fuel in order to ensure the work of Bushehr nuclear power plant, and other nuclear power plants of the country in the future. The Russian nuclear industry said that discussing this initiative will be possible only after the commissioning of Bushehr nuclear power plant, but the uranium can be enriched only in Russia. At present, Moscow is studying this proposal.

According to Yevseyev, the idea of consortium is very perspective because the proposal, which was made to Iran on October 1 last year to exchange 70 percent of LEU available in Iran at that time to fuel for the Tehran research reactor, was temporary.  

"If Iran continued to produce LEU (which it did), this same proposal in the spring would not have that weight as in autumn because in spring Iran already had more than two tons of LEU, which makes up already 50 percent," he said.

In October last year, a plan was proposed upon which through the IAEA, Iran had to export LEU (3.5 percent) to Russia for being enriched to nearly 20 percent, and then to France for reprocessing into fuel for the Tehran medical reactor.

According to the initiatives of the IAEA, the starting material for the planned delivery of foreign nuclear fuel to Iran was to be 1.2 tons of LEU accumulated at Natanz that made up 80 percent of all Iran's reserves (according to the calculations of experts, 1,500 kg). Currently, however, Iran's reserves of 3.5 percent enriched uranium is 2,200 kg.

"It was possible to export LEU for safekeeping in Turkey, said Yevseyev. - But those that left was already enough to manufacture more than one nuclear weapon after enrichment. From this point of view, this proposal for the exchange of fuel was not of a principled character and did not solve the problem, but only postponed it for a future."

The consortium, according to the Russian expert, should use exactly the LEU, which has accumulated in Iran, otherwise it makes no sense.

"The West is not satisfied with the approach under which Russia will produce LEU, deliver it to Iran, where nuclear fuel will be produced, said Yevseyev. - If to use the LEU, which is available in Iran, to produce nuclear fuel from it, and to send it somewhere, then such a decision would be interesting for the West."

But in this case, he said, there are two serious problems: lack of Iran's major reserves of natural uranium and the question of profitability.

"Iran has not significant reserves of natural uranium, said Yevseyev. - It means that if such a consortium is established, it has no basis. For some time, it is possible to use the uranium, which Iran has, but these reserves are small, they are estimated at 10 years of work of the industrial reactor with a capacity of 1 GW.

According to Yevseyev, the question arises on what basis will the consortium be established, from where the natural uranium will be delivered?

Resolution 1929 forbids Iran to invest or participate in the development of natural uranium abroad.

"The second problem is the question of profitability, given that it is still an economic project, said Yevseyev. Russia is now considering the establishment of any enterprise for the production of nuclear fuel in different places. In order to make it profitable, such enterprise should work, for example, upon eight reactors such as Bushehr.

However, he said, considering that now in the entire Middle East, there is only power reactor - Bushehr nuclear power plant, it is not profitable to build such an enterprise in the region.

Bushehr nuclear power plant began to be built by the German Kraftwerk Union concern in 1974, but in 1980 it terminated the contract because of Western German government's accession to the U.S. embargo on supplying equipment to Iran. Since the 1990's, construction of the power plant has been carried out by the Russian specialists.

"Therefore, if the political decision is made, for which the profitability is not of great importance, and the main purpose of which will be to export LEU, the question arises - where to export? said Yevseyev. - For example, to Turkey, but there are no reactors there. If to export to Europe, it needs to produce in one region, export to another. Definitely there will not be profitability. But it is possible as a political decision."

These two problems will hinder the implementation of the consortium, he said.

According to Yevseyev, if the idea of a consortium is more a political decision, it is possible, because now to stop the Iranian nuclear program through peaceful means is impossible, so it must be somehow brought into some sort of framework so that it does not pose a serious danger".

"Given that Iran has accumulated significant reserves of LEU, and they are so large that if they are enriched more, then it will be possible to produce 2-3 nuclear warheads, so it needs to export LEU from Iran in some way," he said.

Accumulated LEU in Iran, can be, for example, used at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

"In this case it would be clear where the fuel would go, he said. Russia can indeed create an enterprise that can produce nuclear fuel for the reactor and itself certify it. This will allow to withdraw LEU from use, transforming it into nuclear fuel and then Russia will export it."
According to Yevseyev, in this case, the question is whether Russia will be entitled to export or not?
"It is principle for Russia to export it, he said. If Iran would agree to export, then the problem will solve itself, since the chain in such a case would look seem to be: LEU is produced, later fuel is produced, fuel runs in the reactor, later the fuel is exported from Iran."

But, according to Yevseyev, such a chain in such a way might not work. "The idea is very perspective, he said. But I can already see the complexity of implementing it."  

The expert believes that the complexity of exporting fuel from Iran is that officially the fuel is Iranian, which should be utilized in the territory of Iran, but it does not have high capacities to reprocess the nuclear fuel.

West would oppose the creation of any kind facility on the reprocessing of nuclear fuel, as this may lead to the production of a plutonium bomb, Yevseyev believes.

"Russia can offer the following: after the nuclear fuel runs in the reactor, it will be exported to the territory of Russia, where it will reprocess it, will isolate from it those that can be reused, and export the material obtained to the territory of Iran to produce nuclear fuel, he said. This scheme is more or less real, but it is unprofitable."

According to Yevseyev, in this case, the national rights of Iran are in no way violated, and the international community is confident that the Iranians will not itself isolate plutonium and accumulate it to produce nuclear weapons.

The expert on nuclear issues Reza Taghizadeh also believes that the important question is not to establish a consortium, it is important whether the uranium will be enriched in Iran, or will be exported.

"This proposal is not new, it is a repetition of previously made proposals, professor at the University of Glasgow Taghizadeh told Trend by telephone. Also formerly Iran invited Russia and other countries, including the U.S., to join a consortium for uranium enrichment in Iranian territory".
 
According to him, Russia previously offered to Iran to participate in the consortium and implement enrichment outside Iran, but it preferred to enrich uranium in its own territory.

The proposal, which was made in November 2005 in Tehran by Igor Ivanov when he was secretary of Russian Security Council, was that the work on uranium enrichment will be conducted outside Iranian territory. But in November 2005, Iran did not have significant reserves of LEU, so it was impossible to speak about its implementation. In addition, by the time the production process wore an experienced character. Russia then proposed to establish consortium not in Iranian territory and Iran to take part in it. Iran categorically refused.

"Whether a consortium will be established or uranium enrichment will be implemented in individual form in the territory of Iran, the UN Security Council, the IAEA and the U.S. will not agree on it, said Taghizadeh. Yet there are no significant changes in Iran's position, and Salehi's words are a repetition of previous proposals."

According to a European expert on Iranian politics Rouzbeh Parsi, for the Western countries the main problem is the possibility of Iran to enrich uranium.

"If the consortium entails enrichment on Iranian territory, it is problematic, but not insurmountable Parsi, an analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) in Paris wrote in an e-mail to Trend. A question would rise on the development of the protocol, confirming that nuclear material is safe and not enriched more than the level that is needed for civil nuclear power."

He believes that this will be the subject of negotiations between Russia and the United States to ensure the credibility of the process.

According to Yevseyev, the idea itself is good, but its implementation will be extremely difficult, primarily due to the fault of the Iranian side.

T.Jafarov contributed to the article.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Turkmenistan’s private enterprise eyes building dry cargo vessel
Turkmenistan’s private enterprise eyes building dry cargo vessel
Turkmenistan's electric potential rises after commissioning new capacious power plants
Turkmenistan's electric potential rises after commissioning new capacious power plants
EBRD to allocate loan to Turkmen beverage company
EBRD to allocate loan to Turkmen beverage company
Loading Bars
Latest
Turkmenistan’s private enterprise eyes building dry cargo vessel
Trade turnover between Russia, US may hit record this year, says Deputy PM Overchuk
Iran to launch several shipping lines to Russia, Kazakhstan
Iran looks to improve transportation of goods from Khuzestan Province
Russia’s Korona Pay eyes expanding money transfers via Azerbaijan's mobile banking apps
Gas prices in Europe to remain high over next 6 months
Iranian currency rates for October 16
Turkmenistan's electric potential rises after commissioning new capacious power plants
Iran to increase fuel production
UK MP killing was terrorist incident, Met Police say
Representatives of diplomatic corps in Azerbaijan begin visit to Sugovushan
Czech Republic eyes to support improvement of Georgian air transport infrastructure
1,900 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Biden says those who refuse to testify in Jan 6 probe should be prosecuted
ISIS claims responsibility for mosque attack in Afghan city of Kandahar
Fully vaccinated foreign visitors can enter U.S. starting on Nov. 8
China's Shenzhou-13 crewed spaceship docks with space station module
UK records more than 40,000 COVID cases for third day in a row
Biden says Clinton will be released ‘shortly’ from California hospital
Amazon-owned Twitch says source code exposed in last week's data breach
Israel's annual inflation up 2.5 pct, highest in nearly decade
Africa's COVID-19 cases surpass 8.41 mln: Africa CDC
US shares specific data on cybercrime with Russia, awaits its actions, White House says
Saudi Arabia appoints Al-Rabiah as new Hajj minister
Chronicles of Victory: President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Turkish A Haber TV channel on October 16, 2020 (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Chronicles of Victory: October 16, 2020
Czech PM Babis pledges smooth power handover to opposition
UK MP dies after being stabbed at constituency meeting
China’s Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft successfully reach orbit
Four migrants dead, 21 missing off Spanish coast
FIA approves schedule for Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2022
COVID-19 kills 197 more Iranians over past 24 hours
Georgian FM meets Slovenian counterpart
Armenia trying to prepare ground for new provocations against Azerbaijan by spreading fake information - MoD
Azerbaijani FM discusses mine threat in liberated territories with French CNEMA delegates (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan lifts flight restrictions for number of countries
Azerbaijani President signs law "On Independence Day"
EBRD to allocate loan to Turkmen beverage company
Azerbaijan records decline in fixed capital revenues for 9M2021
Turkmenistan, WB talk new areas of co-op
Uzbek-Korean JV announces tender to buy clarifier
Gasoline prices in Georgia increase
Money transfers to Azerbaijan via Golden Crown service grow for 9M2021
Iran looking to develop renewable energy - SATBA
Azerbaijani MoD discusses mine clearing in liberated territories with French delegation (PHOTO)
Iran eyeing increase in trade with Spain
Export-oriented local Georgian company to get benefits within USAID program
Saudi Arabia to ease coronavirus curbs from Oct. 17
Russia, Venezuela developing secured messenger — Rostec
Kazatomprom to look for new ways to bolster nuclear energy for peaceful purposes
Turkmenistan discloses area allotted for sowing winter barley in Dashoguz region
Agreement with Azerbaijan on additional gas supplies aimed at ensuring Turkey's gas reserves – Erdogan
First container train on its way to Azerbaijan's Karabakh (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Uzbekneftegaz receives gas flow from well at Khojikazgan field
Kazakhstan to exempt Caspian oil exports from customs duties
Kazakhstan unveils data on trade with other EAEU states
Volume of financial assets of non-financial corporations in Georgia increases
LUKOIL Uzbekistan to buy ceramic balls for catalysts via tender
Azerbaijan, as victorious country, is ready to normalize relations. We hope that Armenian leadership will not pass up on this historic opportunity - President Aliyev
U.S. administers 405.4 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Кazakh national telecommunications operator opens tender to buy spares
Geostat shares data on revenues of Georgian enterprises for 2020
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Netherlands’ FMO is open to new investments in Uzbek financial sector (Exclusive)
Azerbaijan confirms 1,850 more COVID-19 cases, 735 recoveries
Student of Baku Higher Oil School: ‘I am proud to bear the name of such a historical figure!’
French Renault begins production and commercial activities in Uzbekistan
NEQSOL Holding supports ADA University’s project to restore Gazakh Seminary (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's agrarian agency discloses volume of issued subsidies in 9M2021
Money transfers to Georgia exceed investments
Russian peacekeepers - guarantors of peace in Karabakh - President Putin
Georgian air cargo transportation decreases
Azerbaijan ready to start talks with Armenia on delimitation of borders - President Ilham Aliyev
TAP helped in reducing European gas market volatility
Armenia has destroyed 16 of the 17 mosques in Shusha - President Aliyev
President Ilham Aliyev: Armenia refuses to provide us with full maps of mined areas
For about 30 years, Armenia, together with Iran, used former occupied territories of Azerbaijan for drug trafficking to Europe - President Aliyev
Illegal Armenian armed forces attempt new provocation against Azerbaijani units
Azerbaijan's State Employment Agency to launch project on financial support of entrepreneurs
President Ilham Aliyev hailed special role of President Vladimir Putin in cessation of hostilities in Karabakh
City of Aghdam was called “Hiroshima of the Caucasus” - Azerbaijani president
Karabakh conflict has been consigned to history - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan takes part in meeting of heads of security and intelligence agencies of CIS
Brent oil price on the ICE exchange up over $ 85/barrel
Iran seeks to transform its ports to transshipment hubs
Microfinance sector in Georgia hopes to rebound from COVID-19, shares forecast
President Ilham Aliyev attends CIS Heads of State Council's session in video conference format (PHOTO)
France's intention to take part in de-mining of Azerbaijan's lands - important, MP says
Death toll climbs to seven following fatal gun battles in Beirut
Azerbaijani ombudsman issues statement on anniversary of shelling of funeral procession in Tartar by Armenian troops
EBRD talks on financing of construction of high-voltage transmission line in Uzbekistan
Israeli companies getting increasingly interested in Russian market — Lavrov
TAP compensated decreasing share of imports from Norway and other LNG to Europe
Azerbaijan’s Parliament adopts bill ‘On Independence Day’
Agriculture goods production increases in Kazakhstan
Turkmenistan’s cotton mill shares export data for 9M2021
Kazakhstan unveils data on local car insurance
Turkmen enterprise reveals volume of oil products shipped to consumers
Uzbekistan approves funding for dozen of scientific projects
Azerbaijan’s Parliament to send congratulatory letter to President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva
All news