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Comment | IAEA Reveals No Evidence Iran Engaging in Military Nuclear Activity

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

25 Feb 2012 00:50Comments

Nonmilitary nuclear activities continue to expand.

r.jpg[ comment ] The International Atomic Energy Agency released its latest report concerning Iran's nuclear program on Friday. The IAEA report makes no new allegations. Its key points are as follows:

(1) Similar to every previous IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, the agency certifies that all of Iran's known nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards, and that there has been no diversion of nuclear materials or facilities from peaceful to nonpeaceful purposes. (Nor is there any evidence that Iran has undeclared nuclear materials or facilities.)

(2) Iran and the IAEA held two intensive rounds of discussions to set up a procedure by which Iran can respond to the allegations made in the agency's previous report, published last November, concerning possible military dimensions of the program in the past. No agreement has been reached yet, mainly because, in the absence of the agency presenting Iran with any credible evidence supporting the allegations, Iran considers them to be fabrications by certain countries, as it formally stated to the IAEA.

(3) One main point of contention between the IAEA and Iran has been the Parchin facility, about 30 miles southeast of Tehran, at which Iran has been making conventional munitions since the 1950s. The agency alleges that the facility has been used for experiments with conventional high explosives that have many conventional military and civilian applications, but are also relevant to triggering a nuclear reaction. The IAEA reports that Iran has refused to grant the agency permission to visit the facility. (The same allegations were made in 2005, but IAEA inspectors visited the facility and reported that they had found nothing inappropriate.) There are indications that Iran may eventually grant such permission, but probably only in the framework of a comprehensive agreement.

(4) Iran has installed a total of 9,156 centrifuges in its Natanz facility. This is only 1,100 more than the previous confirmed number of centrifuges there, debunking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim last week that Iran had installed 3,000 "new" centrifuges at Natanz. All the centrifuges are of the IR-1 type, the most primitive centrifuge that Iran has. Of these, a little over 300 are not working, while the rest are being fed with uranium hexafluride. Preparations are being made to install several thousand more centrifuges.

(5) As of February 4, Iran has produced 5,451 kg of low-enriched uranium. All of the material is safeguarded and under IAEA surveillance. As of February 11, Iran has also produced 95.4 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent, using two cascades, each containing 164 IR-1 centrifuges.

(6) In addition to the IR-2, IR-2m, and IR-4 centrifuges that Iran has been developing, Iran has informed the agency that it intends to install three new types of centrifuges, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-6s, presumably made with carbon fibers. Iran has already installed 58 IR-4 centrifuges, but they have not been fed; 164 IR-2m centrifuges have also been installed.

(7) Iran has informed the agency that research-and-development installation of new centrifuges at Fordow enrichment facility near Qom has concluded, and that the facility will be used to produce low-enriched uranium (up to 5 percent) and 20-percent-enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor.

(8) All the centrifuges installed at Fordow to date are of the IR-1 type. As of February 15, 696 such centrifuges were working and producing low-enriched and 20-percent-enriched uranium, and another 2,088 centrifuges had been installed but were not yet in operation. This brings the total number of centrifuges at Fordow close to the 3,000 that Iran had previously declared its intent to install. The agency has verified that Iran has abided by all of its declarations.

(9) To the extent that the agency is aware, Iran has no unit for reprocessing spent fuel.

(10) On February 12, the IAEA visited the heavy-water nuclear reactor, called IR-40, that is being constructed in Arak, and certified that it is going forward according to Iran's declarations to the agency. Iran has said that IR-40 will be used as a research reactor, although at 40 MW, is it substantially more powerful than the typical research reactor of 5-10 MW. Iran has estimated that construction will be completed in 2014. Arak's heavy-water production plant appears to be operational.

(11) Iran has began converting its low-enriched uranium into two forms of uranium oxide, U3O8 and UO2. Iran informed the agency of its plans to initiate pellet, fuel rod, and fuel assembly production using natural UO2 to produce fuel for IR-40. The agency has confirmed that all of Iran's uranium oxide has been accounted for.

(12) Iran has yet to submit design data for the new enrichment facilities that it intends to construct. According to Modified Code 3.1, Iran is obligated to do so as soon as a decision to construct any nuclear facility is reached. In March 2007, Iran announced that it would no longer implement the modified code, apparently in retaliation for the IAEA forwarding Iran's nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council. Iran argues that since the Majles has not ratified the modified code, it is not obligated to implement it, which the agency disputes. (I took a closer look at this issue in a September 2009 article here.) Under Iran's original Safeguards Agreement, Iran's only relevant obligation is to inform the agency of the existence of a nuclear facility at least 180 days prior to the introduction of any nuclear material into the facility.

See here for another initial review.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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