Russia halts modifications at Iranian centrifuge after Tehran decides to start enriching uranium there

The Russian state corporation Rosatom has stopped working on a project to modify two cascades of gas centrifuges for the production of stable medical isotopes at an Iranian facility in Fordow.

The subsidiary of Rosatom, TVEL Fuel Company,  explained that the response was prompted by Tehran’s decision to start enriching uranium at the facility, now that Iran has reduced its compliance with the nuclear deal.

“The enrichment of uranium and the production of stable isotopes cannot be carried out in a single facility, because in the air and on the equipment there will inevitably appear trace quantities of uranium that are incompatible with the application of the isotopes obtained for medical purposes,” Rosatom said in a press release.

The company notes that, before work can continue, it will be necessary to halt and disassemble the cascades on which the uranium is being enriched and carefully clean the facilities and equipment.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would be unilaterally withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal), which was signed by Iran, Russia, China, the UK, US, France and Germany in 2015. The document imposed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

One year later, Iran announced that it would no longer be keeping a number of its commitments as set out in the agreement, specifically those relating to its reserves of enriched uranium and heavy water.

At the start of November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced a new stage of reduced compliance by Tehran, in which the Fordow facility would start to enrich uranium to 5%.

  Russia, Iran