Russia suspends revamp work at Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant

Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has suspended work on revamping a factory at Iran's Fordow nuclear complex due to an issue with uranium compatibility. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 December 2019

Russia suspends revamp work at Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant

  • "Uranium enrichment and the production of stable isotopes cannot be carried out in the same room," TVEL said
  • European countries have tried to salvage the nonproliferation agreement but Tehran has increasingly distanced itself from the accord since the US withdrew

MOSCOW: Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has suspended work on revamping a factory at Iran's Fordow nuclear complex due to an issue with uranium compatibility, Rosatom's nuclear fuel cycle unit TVEL said on Thursday.
"Uranium enrichment and the production of stable isotopes cannot be carried out in the same room," TVEL said in a statement, adding that it was "technologically impossible" to implement the project at this time.
In November, the United States said it would cease waiving punitive sanctions related to the Fordow plant from Dec. 15 - a move Russia condemned - after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment at the underground site in contravention of a nuclear deal it signed with world powers in 2015.
European countries have tried to salvage the nonproliferation agreement, which requires Iran to restrain its enrichment program, but Tehran has increasingly distanced itself from the accord since the United States withdrew last year.
TVEL said specialists have been working on a project since 2017 to modify centrifuge cascades to produce two stable isotopes that can be used for medicinal purposes. But it said their efforts have been thwarted by traces of uranium in the air and on the equipment.
"To resume this work, we must stop and dismantle the cascades, where uranium enrichment takes place and thoroughly clean the premises and equipment," said TVEL, which specialises in uranium mining and production of nuclear fuel.
"Until these conditions are met, works on the project from the Russian side are suspended."
TVEL said the Iranian side had been informed of its decision.


Beirut port blast crater 43 meters deep: security official

Updated 8 min 16 sec ago

Beirut port blast crater 43 meters deep: security official

  • Crater is much larger than the one left by the enormous blast in 2005 that killed former prime minister Rafic Hariri

BEIRUT: The huge chemical explosion that hit Beirut’s port, devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital and claiming over 150 lives, left a 43-meter (141 foot) deep crater, a security official said Sunday.
The blast Tuesday, which was felt across the county and as far as the island of Cyprus, was recorded by the sensors of the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as having the power of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.
It was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used as a fertilizer or as an explosive, had languished for years, according to authorities.
The huge blast also wounded at least 6,000 people and displaced more than 300,000 from their destroyed or damaged homes.
The revelation that the chemicals had languished for years like a ticking time-bomb in the heart of the capital has served as shocking proof to many Lebanese of the rot at the core of the state apparatus.
Demonstrators on Sunday called for renewed anti-government rallies after a night of angry protests saw them storm several ministries before they were expelled by the army.
It was a new tactic for a protest movement that emerged last October to demand the removal of a political class long accused of being inept and corrupt.
“The explosion in the port left a crater 43 meters deep,” the Lebanese security official said, citing assessments by French experts working in the disaster area.
The crater is much larger than the one left by the enormous blast in 2005 that killed former prime minister Rafic Hariri, which measured 10 meters across and two meters deep, according to an international tribunal investigating his murder.
French rescue and police teams are among a much larger group of international emergency response specialists that has flooded into Lebanon to ease pressure on local authorities unable to cope with the disaster relief on their own.
Qatari, Russian and German rescuers are also working at the port blast site.