Archive for the ‘enrichment’ Category

IAEA Says Iran Possibly Working on Nuclear Warhead

February 18, 2010

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced concern that its information about Iran’s nuclear activities suggests Tehran may be working on a nuclear warhead, according to a classified report obtained by Agence France Presse today.

“The information available to the agency … raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano wrote in his first report to its board of governors.

This is the first time the IAEA has expressed such concern over Iran’s “current” activities.
According to the AFP, the report went on to confirm claims from Tehran earlier this month that the country had begun enriching uranium at the 20 percent level. Iran had previously been enriching uranium to the 3.5-5 percent level.

“Iran provided the agency with mass spectrometry results which indicate that enrichment levels of up to 19.8 percent (uranium) were obtained,” the AFP quoted the report as saying, adding that the enrichment was carried out at a plant in Natanz between February 9 and 11.

Despite the higher level of enrichment, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent or higher for it to be weapons grade.

After a UN proposed plan that Iran send 75-80 percent of its LEU abroad for further enrichment fell through, Iran announced it would begin enriching uranium to 20 percent, claiming it needed the enriched uranium for a research reactor that makes medical radioisotopes.

“On February 10, when the agency inspectors arrived at PFEP (Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant), they were informed that Iran had already begun to feed the UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) into one cascade the previous evening,” Amano’s report said.

The report also said Iran had moved most of its overall stockpile of low-enriched uranium—1,950 kilograms from an estimated total of 2,065 kilograms—for processing to higher levels.

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New Plan for Iran

February 16, 2010

After announcing last week that it was enriching uranium at the 20 percent level, Tehran said major powers have presented Iran with a new offer to supply nuclear fuel in return for Iran’s shipping out of 70-80 percent of its low enriched uranium.
“After the decision by Iran to produce its own uranium enriched to 20 percent, France, Russia and the United States presented a new proposal which we are in the process of considering,” Iranian Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on Monday, without giving details.

“The proposal from these countries will only lead to a halt to the enrichment (to 20 percent) if all the conditions that Iran has made for the exchange of (low enriched) uranium for fuel are respected,” Salehi said, adding, “Various countries have contacted Iran with ideas for the exchange of uranium for fuel and they are currently being considered.”

A UN plan proposed last October advised Iran to send the majority of its LEU to Russia for refinement and then to France for conversion into nuclear fuel rods. Iran would in tern receive the rods for its research reactor.

Iran, however, stipulated that it would only comply if the fuel was exchanged on its own soil and that it would only give up its LEU as it receives the enriched fuel. As a compromise, the IAEA has proposed that the fuel be swapped in Turkey, which has good relations with its Iranian neighbour.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was set to fly to Tehan this week for talks with Iranian officials regarding the matter.