Al-Monitor | Mohammad Ali Shabani: The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on Sunday asserted that the country is on the verge of designing more modern, 20% enriched nuclear fuel, sparking alarmist — and inaccurate — reporting in Western media.
Why it matters: When Iran struck its nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers in 2015, it was in possession of 196 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium and some 10,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. Under the pact, Iran agreed to forgo its production and stockpiling of 20% enriched uranium for 15 years. It also consented to reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 97%, capping it at 300 kilograms.
In an interview with the Iranian state broadcaster, AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that “preliminary activities for designing modern 20% [enriched uranium] fuel have begun.” He added that the “modern fuel” will increase efficiency at the US-supplied Tehran Research Reactor. The aging facility runs on 20% enriched nuclear fuel and is said to produce medical isotopes used in the treatment of up to 800,000 Iranians.