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.


Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

Updated 16 min 56 sec ago

Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

  • In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police
  • Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

BAGHDAD: Dozens of Iraqi protestors were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces who were trying to clear blocked roads, security and medical sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protestors threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protestors burned tires and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

“They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said one woman protestor in Baghdad who declined to give her name.

Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed.

Numbers had dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq.

The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases, has highlighted the influence of some foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.