The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and others reported on the 13th (local time) that Iran has begun preparations for the production of metallic uranium. Metal uranium is made of uranium, a raw material for a nuclear reactor, in the form of a metal rod, and is also used to make nuclear weapons.
Iran and the United States stimulating the detention of Korean ships and crew
According to reports, Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Kazem Garibadi wrote on Twitter that “the research and development of advanced fuels for private research reactors in Tehran has begun.”
He said, “As the first step, we will use natural uranium to produce metallic uranium,” and “Installation of equipment for metallic uranium production will be completed within 4 to 5 months.”
Iran informed the IAEA of its plans for research and development of new raw materials, and added that the IAEA inspection team visited the production plant three days ago. Reuters reported that the term “fuel in an advanced form” referred to by Ambassador Garibadi refers to metal uranium enriched by 20%.
The IAEA secretary-general also sent confidential reports to member states stating that “Iran has entered the assembly of the equipment needed to manufacture metallic uranium at a plant in Isfahan,” the WSJ added.
Foreign media, including Reuters, pointed out that Iran’s start to manufacture metal uranium is a violation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA). Iran cannot manufacture or acquire metallic uranium for 15 years according to the JCPOA signed with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China in 2015. However, Iran claims that “there are no restrictions on research and development.”
The interpretation that it is intended to increase nuclear bargaining power ahead of the inauguration of the next administration of Joe Biden on the 20th is dominant. The U.S. has put pressure on Iran since it withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018. Iran intends to ease sanctions through nuclear negotiations and lead the US to return to the nuclear agreement when Biden takes office.
Iran has already shown its presence by warning the United States of retaliation for the assassination of its nuclear scientist in November last year and the death of Commander Gushem Soleimani on the 3rd.
On the 4th, it declared that it would increase the concentration of uranium enrichment from 3.67%, which was limited by the nuclear agreement, to 20%, and on the same day a Korean tanker was captured. Iran claims that Korean ships were reported to have caused marine pollution several times and only handled them according to judicial procedures. However, CNN interpreted that Korea was taken as a “hostage” in a situation where the United States and Iran confronted.
Reporter Lee Min-jung [email protected]