News & AnalysisNuclear Nonproliferation

Iranian 'Medical' Reactor Stokes Search for Alternatives

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Science  21 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6139, pp. 1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6139.1392

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Iran has steadfastly averred that the objectives of its sprawling nuclear program are peaceful. To nonproliferation experts, a chief concern is Iran's IR-40 heavy water reactor, slated to start operating next year. It will make radioisotopes for medicine and industry, but in doing so it will also generate enough plutonium each year for one or two atomic bombs. A new report lays out alternatives for producing medical isotopes that avoid uranium and plutonium—an intriguing topic for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and the ultimate fate of the IR-40 reactor.