Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) announced a milestone, revealing that its scientists and specialists have successfully generated the radioactive isotope cesium-137 within the country for the very first time.
The accomplishment was unveiled by the AEOI’s director, Mohammad Eslami, during a ceremony held at the Tehran International Exhibition Centre on August 27, as reported by the Fars News Agency.
The report highlights that Iran embarked on the production of this radioactive isotope due to “challenges associated with importing this particular radionuclide.”
Cesium-137, a byproduct commonly derived from the nuclear fission of uranium-235, possessing a half-life of 30 years, finds diverse applications in industries and plays a crucial role in radiation therapy within the medical field.
In a recent development, Iran’s Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), refuted a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article dated August 12. The report from WSJ alleged a deceleration in Iran’s accumulation of 60 percent enriched uranium. The Fars News Agency quoted an “informed source,” asserting that Iran’s “peaceful nuclear activities” continue to progress “uninterrupted.”
A day prior, WSJ had published that Iran had “significantly slowed the pace” at which it was accumulating near-weapons-grade enriched uranium. The report claimed that Iran had diluted some of its stockpiles in a move aimed at easing tensions with the US and potentially facilitating the resumption of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA).
According to the WSJ report, “The more slowly Tehran accumulates highly enriched uranium, the less potential fissile material it has for nuclear weapons.”
Following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018, Iran gradually escalated its uranium enrichment efforts. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors issued censure against Iran twice last year due to its perceived lack of cooperation with the Agency’s safeguards investigation.
In response to the initial censure, Iran dismantled monitoring equipment at various nuclear sites, including cameras, in June 2022. After the second censure in November 2022, Iran elevated uranium enrichment to 60 percent at the Fordow nuclear site.
In February 2023, Bloomberg reported that IAEA inspectors discovered uranium enriched to 84 percent purity, slightly below the 90 percent threshold required for a nuclear bomb. The inspectors are actively investigating whether this enrichment level was intentional.
Since the outbreak of nationwide protests in Iran the previous September, the US has indicated that the revival of the nuclear deal is “not on the agenda anymore.”
The United States, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have all recently condemned the supply of Iranian-manufactured drones to Russia, citing a violation of a 2015 UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.
In late June, Luis Miguel Bueno, the European Union (EU) spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, firmly stated that Europe would not permit Iran to possess nuclear weapons, emphasizing that it remains a “red line” for the continent.