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Back in 2010-2011 or so, Iran claimed (through president Ahmadinejad) that Iran needed 20% enriched uranium only to produce medical isotopes:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Through Translator): [...] The United States government, France, any other government, if they -- if they bring us, if they make available to us 20 percent enriched uranium we will shut down domestic uranium production to 20 percent. We don't need it for anything other than the production of cancer treatment medication.

How did the JCPOA deal with this issue of of medical isotopes for Iran?


What I could find out is that Iran is presently an exporter of nuclear medicine "cold kit" products:

Iranian experiences from previous sanctions however urged them for local production of radiopharmaceuticals and assemble of radioactive generators. Currently a wide variety of radiopharmaceuticals are locally produced including nearly all types of [nuclear medicine] cold kits [...]

Due to competitive prices of these products, many nuclear medicine departments in developing countries have been importing these radiopharmaceuticals from Iran. Currently, Iran is one of the suppliers of radiopharmaceuticals in Iraq, India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Georgia and few other Asian, and European countries. However raw materials have been imported for these productions and secure air transport is mandatory to export the final products, so any sanction in this sections will hamper supply of radiopharmaceuticals in the region far beyond Iran.

So I'm guessing Iran was allowed to produce "cold kits" locally under JCPOA. Are there details to this process as set out in JCPOA?

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Basically the EU+3 group agreed to be a supplier of last resort for 19.75%-enriched uranium, in limited quantities, and only for the Tehran reactor. In return Iran agreed not to produce 19.75%-enriched uranium locally.

[58.] All uranium oxide enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or transferred, based on a commercial transaction, outside of Iran or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67% or less. Scrap oxide and other forms not in plates that cannot be fabricated into TRR fuel plates will be transferred, based on a commercial transaction, outside of Iran or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67% or less. In case of future supply of 19.75% enriched uranium oxide (U3O8) for TRR fuel plates fabrication, all scrap oxide and other forms not in plates that cannot be fabricated into TRR fuel plates, containing uranium enriched to between 5% and 20%, will be transferred, based on a commercial transaction, outside of Iran or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67% or less within 6 months of its production. Scrap plates will be transferred, based on a commercial transaction, outside Iran. The commercial transactions should be structured to return an equivalent amount of natural uranium to Iran. For 15 years, Iran will not build or operate facilities for converting fuel plates or scrap back to UF6.

[...]

[60]. Iran will seek to enter into a commercial contract with entities outside Iran for the purchase of fuel for the TRR and enriched uranium targets. The E3/EU+3 will facilitate, as needed, the conclusion and implementation of this contract. In the case of lack of conclusion of a contract with a fuel supplier, E3/EU+3 will supply a quantity of 19.75% enriched uranium oxide (U3O8) and deliver to Iran, exclusively for the purpose of fabrication in Iran of fuel for the TRR and enriched uranium targets for the lifetime of the reactor. This 19.75% enriched uranium oxide (U3O8) will be supplied in increments no greater than approximately 5 kg and each new increment will be provided only when the previous increment of this material has been verified by the IAEA to have been mixed with aluminum to make fuel for the TRR or fabricated into enriched uranium targets. Iran will notify the E3/EU+3 within 2 year before the contingency of TRR fuel will be exhausted in order to have the uranium oxide available 6 months before the end of the 2 year period.

There are also some rather generic promises in the agreement that EU+3 will help Iran with other nuclear medicine projects (in annex III E), including the acquisition of a new cyclotron.

According to some commentators, the two issues are connected:

Upon reading the JCPA, it is surprising how much of the document deals with the matter of radioisotope production in one fashion or another. [...]

The JCPA explicitly seeks to shift radioisotope production from one mode—nuclear research reactors—to another—particle accelerators. The reason is simple: to reduce or eliminate Iran’s use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) targets and nuclear research reactors to produce radioisotopes. [...]

This is no small task: research reactors produce four-fifths of man-made radioisotopes worldwide. The remainder is produced by devices called particle accelerators—either circular ones called cyclotrons, or less commonly, straight or “linear” accelerators known as LINACS.

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