April 22, 2019
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Iran's authorities show off nuclear advances, despite US sanctions

By Marina Villén

Tehran, Apr 12 (efe-epa).- Iranian authorities showcased what they said were 114 advances in their domestic nuclear technology industry achieved over the course of a year despite the United States decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and falls well within the confines of the historic deal, which saw Iran limit its atomic program in exchange for a mild alleviation of international economic sanctions.

This year, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran's (AEOI) tally of achievements – which outnumbered the previous year by 31 – coincided with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's announcement that he would authorize the installation of advanced IR-6 centrifuges.

"The US policy of harassment cannot hinder our progress in the field of nuclear technology," Ali Akbar Saheli, the head of the AEOI, said in a ceremony this week.

Notable advances in the field included new control systems to monitor nuclear processes; two nuclear medicines, including Yttrium-90, which is used in radiation therapy to treat cancer; a medical linear accelerator, which tailor x-rays to a patient's needs and the production of oxygen-18, which can be used in the medical industry in things like positron-emission tomography (PET scans).

Speaking to Efe, Ali Asghar Zarean, Salehi's special advisor, said it had taken four years of investigation to be able to produce oxygen-18, which could now be commercialized.

"Production capacity is around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) a year. We are in the first stage producing about 50 kilos but our annual domestic consumption is very few kilos, for that reason we're moving towards exportation," he said.

Iran was also ready to export its centrifuges, he said.

According to Zarean, the AEOI has managed to domestically design and produce "whatever kind" of centrifuge for use in various industries, like medicine.

Iran was forced to produce the machines domestically because of sanctions.

This week a network of 20 IR-6 centrifuges was installed at the Natanz nuclear plant in central Iran.

Each IR-6 centrifuge is eight times as powerful than the more primitive IR-1 designs, according to Zarean.

Rouhani used this achievement to level a warning at the US.

"If you were scared about the out IR-1 centrifuges in the past, you should know now that we are launching a network of 20 IR-6 models and that, if you keep up the pressure, we will unveil a network of IR-8 centrifuges in the near future," he said.

The use of IR-8 centrifuges in Iran is prohibited by the 2015 nuclear deal.

The accord was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States) plus Germany.

However, US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the framework and to reimpose – and, indeed strengthen – sanctions on Iran has left the deal on shaky ground.

Trump's administration said the deal would only delay Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed Iran's compliance to with the accord 14 times.

The nuclear deal meant Iran had to dismantle or remodel certain atomic plants and temporary limit investigations that used nuclear material or technology, such as its uranium enrichment program.

Salehi said all of Iran's achievements in 2018 were in line with the IAEA guidelines.

Zarean warned, however, that Iran would crank up its full atomic program once again should authorities ever judge that the remaining signatories of the 2015 pact were failing to uphold their end of the deal. EFE-EPA

mv-ar/jt/sh

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