Heavy Water Current Affairs - 2019
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Iran announced it will continue with its low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers. This move comes when on 3 May 2019, US forced Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and halt expanding its only nuclear power plant, thus intensifying campaign aimed at stopping Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and curbing its regional power.
Move taken by US against Iran
- US efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began in 2018 when US President Trump unilaterally withdrew from nuclear deal which US and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.
- US also scrapped its sanctions waiver under 2015 nuclear deal which until now allowed Iran to ship low enriched uranium produced at its Natanz facility, to Russia before it hit 300 kg limit and can even evade 300 kg limit on amount of low-enriched uranium it can store.
- In recent move US announced discontinuing waivers and sanctions for countries (even India) buying oil from Iranian oil. It is an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
- It also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist Organization.
Arguments by Iran
- As per (nuclear accord) Iran can produce heavy water (which is employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads), as this does not violate agreement so Iran will carry on with enrichment activity.
- Its low-enriched uranium production helps Iran produce electricity.
- Iran called for talks with its other partners in nuclear deal and UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to approve that Iran can enrich fuel to 20 percent and higher.
- It is trying to counter US sanctions by continuing to export its oil at the same time boosting its non-oil exports.
- In a move to increase its hard currency income and cut down currency expenditures, Iran will increase production and raise non-oil exports.
IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency
- It was established in 1957as an autonomous organization with headquarters Vienna. It’s objective is to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy, and prevent its use for any military purpose, including production of nuclear weapons.
- Although it is independent of UN but it reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to UN Security Council (UNSC).
- It won Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Heavy Water Board (HWB), a constituent industrial unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) signed an collaborative agreement with Clearsynth, Mumbai for sale of 20 tonnes of Heavy Water in year. It will be sold for development of deuterium labeled compounds, NMR Solvents, d-labeled Active Pharma Ingredients (APIs).
This deal marks beginning of important era in t annals of Indian Nuclear industry leading to societal benefits for masses. During previous years, Indian industries had imported deuterated compounds and Heavy Water to tune of 9 Million USD. This collaborative agreement will initiate import substitution for deuterated compounds and Heavy Water.
Heavy Water Board (HWB)
HWB is constituent unit under DAE in the Central Government. It is primarily responsible for production of Heavy Water (D2O) which is used as ‘moderator’ and ‘Coolant’ in nuclear power as well as research reactors. It is also engaged with production of different types of nuclear grade solvents and extraction of rare materials. HWB currently operates 7 heavy water plants around the country.
It is also known as deuterium oxide (D2O). It is form of water that contains large amount of hydrogen isotope deuterium (heavy hydrogen). Deuterium differs from hydrogen which is usually found in water. Heavy water may be deuterium protium oxide (DHO) or deuterium oxide (D2O). The presence of deuterium increase mass of water and gives different chemical and physical property compared to normal water.
Heavy water is used in certain types of nuclear reactors, where it acts as a neutron moderator to slow down neutrons. It also used in nuclear magnetic resonance, organic chemistry, fourier transform spectroscopy, neutron moderator, neutrino detector, tritium production and metabolic rate testing in physiology and biology.