Jeffrey LewisImplementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, GOV/2005/67

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has submitted a report concerning the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2005/67).

The full text—marked “restricted distribution”—fell off a truck, digitally speaking.

George Jahn with AP led with the revelation that Iran has produced 6,800 kg of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas.

Iran has produced about 7 tons of the gas it needs for uranium enrichment since it restarted the process last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Friday. A former UN nuclear inspector said that would be enough for an atomic weapon.

Iran would have to enrich the UF6 in centrifuges. Iran has 1274 assembled centrifuge rotors—a proxy for assembled centrifuges—under IAEA monitoring at Natanz. David Albright and Corey Hinderstein believe about half work properly. Iran would have to resume manufacturing of centrifuges—frozen under the vountary suspension—and demonstrate that it can operate the centrifuges in a cascade.

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The report also concludes, as expected, that contamination explains much of the HEU that IAEA inspectors found in Iran. To be precise, ElBaradei found that “the results of the environmental sample analysis tend, on balance, to support Iran’s statement about the [Pakistani] origin of most of the observed HEU contamination.”

That still leaves the issue of LEU contamination (The IAEA is defining LEU as “less than 20% U-235”). ElBaradei linked resolving this aspect of the contamination issue with efforts to resolve outstanding questions about the extent of Iran’s centrifuge program:

It is still not possible at this time, however, to establish a definitive conclusion with respect to all of the contamination, particularly the LEU contamination. This underscores the importance of additional work on the scope and chronology of Iran’s P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programmes, which could greatly contribute to the resolution of the remaining contamination issues.

As far as I can tell, ElBaradei is referring to the fact that the contamination of domestically manufactured centrifuge components showed predominantly LEU contamination, while the imported components showed both LEU and HEU contamination. But I feel like I am missing something here. Any thoughts would be appreciated at jeffrey[at]armscontrolwonk.com or pkerr[at]armscontrol.org.

A diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP in February 2005 that the “LEU issue will probably never be solved.”

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Paul points out the report references the uranium mine at Gchine. More on that tomorrow, I hope.

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