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Iran to Begin Producing Enriched Uranium Metal: Envoy

Iran’s ambassador to the Vienna-based international organizations said Tehran plans to begin the process of producing enriched uranium metal, noting that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been informed of the decision beforehand.

Kazem Gharibabadi made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the uranium silicide plate enriched to 20 percent purity would be used as fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.

“Research and development regarding this issue with natural uranium began about three months ago. In the new process, a new fuel plate will be produced using 20 percent enriched uranium,” Gharibabadi told reporters.

“This measure, which will significantly improve the quality and quantity of radiopharmaceutical production, will make the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the leading countries in the field of nuclear technology,” the Iranian diplomat added.

Iran’s representative to the international organizations in Vienna also stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been informed of the Tehran’s move nine days earlier and the relevant operations had begun right afterwards, Press TV reported.

Gharibabadi described the silicide plate as a modern type of nuclear fuel whose technology is only available to a handful of countries.

The IAEA said in a statement on Tuesday that Iran intends to use domestically enriched uranium (U-235) with 20 percent purity as fuel in the Tehran reactor.

“Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U-235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at a plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel,” the statement said.

The IAEA also said the process would be a multi-step measure, suggesting that it would take much time.

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