Jeffrey LewisInside Iran's UCF

Iranian news agencies are really showing off the Uranium Conversion Facility at Esfahan (Isfahan), where Iran has resumed fuel cycle activities.

The Fars news agency photographs Iran’s uranium conversion facility, inside and out. Check it out.

Conservative daily Keyhan (full text via World News Connection) details the history of the facility, including failed negotiations with China:

In 1371 (1992-1993) a contract worth $110 million, equivalent to 30 billion tomans, was concluded between Iran and China to build the facility in Esfahan. Unfortunately, after providing the preliminary designs, China unilaterally announced in 1375-1376 (1996-1998) that it could no longer build this factory, and Iran’s effort to continue its cooperation with China was unsuccessful. So the authorities employed a number of very young specialists of the country to work on this project and while they were making the equipment that it was said no one could make, Iran continued its negotiations with China and got $62.5 million from the Chinese for breaking off their cooperation.

After constructing and setting up the machinery, the experimental system of this facility was put into operation before and after the new year of 1383 (March 2004). After thoroughly testing the entire system, the UCF now does 70 percent of the uranium conversion process, and despite all its limitations, this project was put into operation in less than four years.

The “very young specialists … making the equipment that it was said no one could make” is both a nice nationalist allegory and an explanation for why the facility sucks donkey.