Iranian Atomic Energy Organization: Tehran reactor to receive fuel next year (UPDATE)

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization: Tehran reactor to receive fuel next year (UPDATE)

EDITOR's NOTE: Last three paragraphs were added

The Tehran research reactor will be provided with fuel next Septembe, the IRNA news agency quoted head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

"We have produced a 'virtual' 20-percent fuel," he said. "Next September, we will produce the main fuel and provide the laboratory fuel."

The reactor was built with U.S. assistance in the 1960s. Its main function is to produce medicine. In order to provide the reactor with fuel, Iran purchased uranium enriched to 19.75 percent from Argentina in 1993, and paid $50 million for the uranium and the reactor's construction.

Presumably, the fuel stocks purchased from Argentina will be exhausted next year.

In October 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and "six international mediators on Iran" (Russia, the U.S., China, Britain, France and Germany) offered Tehran to exchange low-enriched uranium (3.5-percent) to high-enriched uranium (20-percent). According to this plan, Iran was proposed to export its LEU to Russia where it would be further enriched and then sent to France for processing it into fuel assemblies for the Tehran reactor. But Tehran said it was ready to buy more highly enriched uranium or exchange with its reserves, provided that the exchange will be held in the Iranian territory. World powers and the IAEA, with its headquarters in Vienna, declined the proposal of Iran.

According to the IAEA, 1.2 tons of the input material for the foreign nuclear fuel to be supplied to Iran was supposed to come from the Natanz Plant, which holds 80 percent of all of Iran's reserves (1,500 kilograms).IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano issued a report in May noting that Iran has already amassed 2,427 kilograms of uranium enriched to 4.8 percent. However, the last report puts the figure at 2,800 kilograms.

The trilateral agreement on uranium exchange between Iran, Turkey and Brazil was reached May 17. The foreign ministers of these countries signed the draft of the so-called Tehran Declaration to exchange Iranian low-enriched uranium for highly enriched fuel for the Tehran research reactor. According to the document, it must be exchanged on the Turkish territory.

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