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Iran to Produce Medical Reactor Fuel Within a Year

Posted by Zand-Bon on Aug 31st, 2010 and filed under INTERNATIONAL NEWS FOCUS, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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By Ladane Nasseri


August 31, 2010

Iran’s atomic energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said his country will produce within a year the fuel needed for Tehran’s medical research reactor, state-run Press TV reported.

Iran has enriched 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of uranium to the required 20 percent purity to fuel the reactor in the Iranian capital, Salehi, who heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was cited as saying in a report published on Press TV’s website.

Iran does not intend to enrich all its stockpile of uranium to that level, Salehi told the channel, adding that the higher- grade enrichment work will stop once sufficient fuel is produced for the reactor.

Iran began processing low-enriched uranium to reactor grade in February. Iran needs 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium to supply the reactor, which produces medical isotopes for cancer patients and will soon run out of fuel.

Iran is in conflict with western countries over its nuclear activities, which the U.S. and its allies accuse of being a cover for the development of atomic weapons. Iran rejects the charge and says it needs the technology to generate electricity and for other civilian purposes such as medical research.

Uranium enrichment is at the center of world powers’ concern with Iran’s nuclear program. The material can fuel a reactor or, enriched to higher degrees, form the core of a bomb.

Russian Pledge

Iran inaugurated its first nuclear-power plant in the southern province of Bushehr on Aug. 21. Russia, which built the plant, has pledged to supply Iran with the fuel for the reactor.

The process of loading 163 Russian-supplied fuel rods into the Bushehr power plant, which began on the day of the inauguration, will take another two weeks, Salehi said in a separate report published late yesterday by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

“It will take 10-15 further days for all the 163 fuel rods to be moved into the main building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,” Salehi said. “The fuel rods will then be transferred into the reactor.”

Iran expects power generation from the Bushehr plant, which will account for less than 4 percent of the nation’s electricity, to start in about three months.

–Editors: Chris Peterson, Andrew Atkinson

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