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Powers refer Iran to Intl. market for radioisotopes

In a letter to the UN nuclear watchdog, the US, Russia and France have proposed that Iran go to the world market as an alternate source for its much needed medical isotopes, instead of domestically producing fuel for its research reactor.

The letter, which was addressed to the Director-General of the International atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, read that if Iran does not wish to accept a UN-opposed nuclear fuel swap deal, “We note that these (radioisotopes) are available in the market and could be obtained as a reasonable, timely and cost effective alternative to the IAEA’s proposal.”

The IAEA’s proposal would require Iran to send most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and subsequently France for further enrichment and conversion into metal fuel rods.

Based on the draft, Iran would receive a shipment of the nuclear fuel at a later time, while the Tehran research reactor, which produces medical radioisotopes for cancer treatment, is already running out of fuel.

The Islamic Republic is also skeptical about the proposal, saying it needs guarantees that the shipment would eventually find its way back to the country, citing the western powers’ failure to deliver on their previous commitments.

France, Russia and the US said in their letter that they “recognize Iran’s need for assurance that the project would be fully implemented.”

However, they went on to count a number of provisions incorporated into the existing draft that, according to the three parties, provides the necessary assurances regarding their “collective commitment” to fulfill the IAEA proposal.

This is while for over 30 years certain Western countries have failed to live up to their promises and agreements to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran.

Despite being a 10-percent shareholder and hence entitled to the European Gaseous Diffusion Uranium Enrichment Consortium (Eurodif)’s output, Iran has never received enriched uranium from France.

Tehran and Paris have also signed a deal, under which France is obliged to deliver 50 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to Iran — another obligation France has failed to meet.

As the powers ignored Tehran’s concerns over the absence of necessary guarantees, Iran decided to domestically enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent.

International regulations clearly state that all signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Iran, are allowed to enrich uranium within a peaceful program that is supervised by the IAEA.

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