Iran to launch nuclear conversion plant in June
Iran is set to launch a plant to convert low-enriched uranium gas into an oxide form as part of a nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group, diplomats say.
A senior official at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said at a closed-door meeting with diplomats earlier this week that the launch of the plant, near the central city of Isfahan, is scheduled for the second half of June, Reuters reported.
“From what I hear that still allows for all the [conversion] work to be done by mid-July,” one Western envoy said.
Under a six-month interim nuclear deal signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany last November, Iran undertook to dilute half of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium to five-percent purity and oxidize the other half. The deal took effect on January 20.
On April 20, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi said that Tehran had finished the dilution process and had three months to convert the remaining half to uranium oxide.
In a report last Friday, the IAEA said that Iran had been complying with the terms of the deal it signed with the six countries of China, Russia, France, Britain, the US and Germany.
The IAEA also confirmed that the commissioning of the conversion plant had begun.
Iran has been in negotiations with the P5+1 group to reach a final deal, which would end the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.
The two sides held the latest round of nuclear negotiations in the Austrian capital city of Vienna earlier this month. The next round of official talks would be held on 16-20 June in Vienna.