Fuel Swap Proposal
On October 1, 2010, Iran and the United States agreed on a deal in which Iran would trade 1,200 kilograms of its 3.5 percent LEU for 120 kilograms of 20 percent LEU fuel from abroad, enough to fuel the TRR for years to come. A few weeks later, Iran reneged on this deal. (See ISIS Nuclear Iran News: “P5+1 Seeks Renewed Negotiations, Fuel Swap Talks under its Auspices”).
After negotiations for the fuel swap stagnated, Iran began to enrich its 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium to 19.75 percent LEU in the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz (See ISIS Nuclear Iran Site: “PFEP”).
On May 17, 2010, Iran agreed in principle to send 1,200 kg of its low enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for safekeeping as it awaited 120 kilograms of LEU fuel from abroad. The European Union, the United States, and other concerned countries greeted this arrangement skeptically, concerned that this declaration was merely an attempt to delay the impending imposition of additional U.N. Security Council sanctions. (See ISIS Report, “Iran’s Proposed LEU Deal: Skeptical, but Awaiting Clarification”).
On July 12, 2010, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, stated that Iran continues to increase its amount of 19.75 percent enriched uranium, but it still likely lacks the ability to manufacture fuel for the TRR. (See ISIS Report: Has Iran initiated a slow-motion breakout to a nuclear weapon?) Iran plans to make this fuel at Esfahan.