Russia's supply of radioisotopes to Iran would not solve problem

Russia's supply of radioisotopes to Iran would not solve problem

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 24 /Trend, D.Khatinoglu/

Given the short "half-live" time of some radioisotopes, as well as the need for a variety of isotopes for treatment of various diseases, signing a contract for the sale of two isotopes between Russia and Iran does not satisfy the needs for the radioactive drugs in Iran, Secretary General of the Organization on Protection of National Interests of Iran, an expert in the nuclear sphere Saeed Yari told Trend by telephone from Tehran.

Feb. 23, the head of the Rosatom Organization Sergei Kiriyenko said that discussion is conducted on concluding a contract with Iran for the sale of two isotopes. He said Russia is ready to sell Iran two isotopes - Molybdenum-99 and iodine-131.
Isotope molybdenum-99 is mostly used for the production of a substance 'Technetium -99', and the substance 'Technetium -99' is used when taking photos of the heart muscles, bones and internal organs.

Iodine-131 or isotope of iodine is applied in photographing the thyroid gland (thyroiditis), stopping blood flow and urinary flow in the kidney and in other areas.
The diagnosis of many diseases in medicine is made by radioisotopes. Radioisotopes are produced in two forms - some in the nuclear laboratories, some by cyclotrons (a kind of particle accelerators).

There are 27 types of isotopes produced by nuclear reactors, the 'half-live time' of some is less than two days. Feb. 11 Iran stated the launch of production of four types of new radioactive drugs. Today Iran produces 11 types of radioactive drugs.

According to Yari, 'half-live time' of radioactive drugs is sometimes very short, and their expiry may end during their supply from Russia to Iran. On the other hand, the range of radioisotopes is very broad, and in Iran there are many diseases of which treatment requires a variety of radioactive drugs. Therefore, this step of Russia is a humanitarian step and commendable, but does not solve the problem.

According to Jari, Western countries should provide fuel to Amirabad nuclear laboratory in Tehran. Because a variety of isotopes are produced there, and treatment of hundreds of thousands of patients in Iran depends on this laboratory. If this does not happen, the import of radioisotopes will not solve the problems.

The fuel of Amirabad reactor will complete in 2012. Iran demands the West to provide this reactor with 20-percent enriched uranium fuel. However, in exchange, the West demands Iran to transfer large part of 3,000 kilograms of 3.5-percent enriched uranium.

For the first time, the proposal was made in 2009 by the former head of the IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei. Thus, Iran would exchange 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium with 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium fuel. Iran initially refused the offer, but later with the mediation of Turkey and Brazil has agreed to exchange. But the West demanded Iran to convey more uranium than required. The sides have not yet reached an agreement on this.

According to Yari, for many years Russia has been delaying with the launch of the Busher nuclear power plant. "For what reason Iran should believe that Russia will supply Iran the isotopes without delay?" said Yari. Russia assumed the construction of the Busher nuclear power plant in 1995. It promised to launch the reactor plant in February 2011, but the opening of the plant was again postponed.

In December 2010 the former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi (now Foreign Minister of Iran) said Iran produced 35 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium gas. According to him, if the West does not provide Amirabad reactor with fuel, the needed fuel will be produced in Iran itself.

The technology to transform the 20-percent uranium gas into fuel for the reactor exists in a number of countries. Experts say that Iran can enrich uranium gas, but Iran's production of uranium fuel is not feasible.

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