178 STC 06 E - NUCLEAR POLICY OF IRAN
JEROME RIVIERE (FRANCE)
SUB-COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN AND ACTING RAPPORTEUR
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
A. HISTORY OF IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
B. NUCLEAR-FUEL-CYCLE RELATED Facilities
1. Mining and milling
C. PEACEFUL PROGRAMME?
1. The potential for producing weapons-grade material
III. NUCLEAR WEAPONISATION
A. BUILDING A BOMB
B. MISSILE PROGRAMME
1. Short-range ballistic missiles
IV. IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REGIME
APENDIX 1: THE CONCEPT OF NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE
1. The end of the Cold War did not eliminate the menace of nuclear war, and the threat of nuclear weapons ending up in the 'wrong hands' is probably the greatest global security challenge. The international community has a rich history of launching various multinational initiatives, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), designed to contain nuclear threats. Unfortunately, the world record of circumventing these agreements is just as rich. Both nuclear, and non-nuclear-weapons states need to live up to their part of the NPT bargain: nuclear disarmament and the peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy.
2. The nuclear programme of Iran constitutes a test case for a global non-proliferation regime. How should a 'peaceful nuclear programme' be defined? How should the question of dual-use technologies be addressed? What should the international community do to deal with transgressors? How can the application of double policy standards towards certain countries be avoided? These are the fundamental questions that surface when discussing the case of Iran.
3. The Euro-Atlantic community, which our Assembly represents, needs to develop a clear and unified strategy towards Iran's nuclear programme. Such a political strategy should be based on a sound and sober understanding of the technological characteristics of this programme, in order to avoid the proliferation of certain myths that may lead to ill-founded decisions. It is also important to avoid repeating inaccurate conclusions, as was the case with Iraq. Therefore, the goal of this report is to present a condensed overview of Iran's advancements in nuclear fuel cycle development, attempting to provide NATO legislators with a background for their political judgement. The visits of the Science and Technology Committee to Vienna, Geneva and the US this year provided particularly useful sources of information from most knowledgeable experts and diplomats, including Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Your Rapporteur also wishes to seize this opportunity to express her appreciation of the excellent analysis of nuclear and missile policies of Iran by Committee Rapporteurs Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin and Lothar Ibrügger in their respective 2004 reports on "Nuclear Weapons Proliferation" and "Missile Defences and Weapons in Space".
A. HISTORY OF IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
4. Iran's nuclear ambitions date back to mid-1960s, when the pro-Western regime of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi first acquired modest nuclear capabilities from the US; a small 5-megawatt-thermal (MWt) research reactor for the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC). To its credit, Iran agreed to sign the NPT in 1968 (ratified in 1970), and, in 1974, completed a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The geopolitical developments in the early 1970s (the Arab-Israeli conflict and the subsequent oil crisis) impelled the Shah's government to accelerate their nuclear programme. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) announced an ambitious plan to generate 23,000 MW of nuclear energy within 20 years (to illustrate, a typical 1,000 MW reactor can provide enough electricity for a modern city of close to one million people. Iran's population is now almost 70 million, a considerable rise compared to its some 30 million in the mid-1970s). The US authorities, particularly the administration of Gerald Ford, together with French and German companies, were actively engaged in Iran's nuclear programmes, supplying the country with different components of the nuclear fuel cycle and even training Iranian nuclear scientists. Two nuclear reactors were also constructed in Bushehr, which advanced Iranian nuclear progress considerably.
5. These nuclear activities were halted and all assistance from the West was effectively stopped during and after the political turmoil in Iran in the late 1970s, that resulted in the removal of the Shah. The new Islamic regime, led by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, showed little interest in their predecessors' aspirations. Moreover, many of Iran's top nuclear scientists fled the country. As a result of the war with Iraq, which broke out in 1980, the constructions at Bushehr were bombed and destroyed. On the other hand, Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 may have also provided disincentives for Tehran to develop its nuclear programme further. Nevertheless, the weapons research side of Iran's nuclear activities seems to have continued, uninterrupted by the revolution. Uranium conversion and fuel fabrication technologies were examined at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center (ENTC), and some limited research was conducted on uranium enrichment centrifuge technologies, including purchase of designs and samples from the A.Q.Kahn network in 1987.
6. In the late 1980s, when Khomeini was replaced by the much more "pro-nuclear" Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Tehran decided to substantially revive its nuclear programme. Iran required considerable assistance from foreign suppliers, but a number of countries refused (often under pressure from the US) to co-operate with the country on this matter. Nevertheless, Tehran managed to develop long-term co-operation agreements with Pakistan (in 1987; and in mid-1990s, Iran also acquired components of P-1 centrifuges and blueprints of more advanced P-2 centrifuges from the A.Q.Kahn network) and China (several agreements between 1990 and 1992). China provided Iran with small research reactors, laser enrichment equipment, conversion technologies, and even shipped more than a ton of natural uranium to Iran. China also reportedly trained Iranian nuclear technicians and engineers. In 1992, however, Beijing was persuaded by Washington to suspend its assistance to Iran.
7. In the mid-1990s, Russia and Iran were developing plans for extensive co-operation, designed to assist Iran in acquiring full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. However, after the explicit intervention by President Clinton, Russia agreed to limit its assistance to building a light-water reactor at Bushehr. Apart from work on the Bushehr plant, different Russian scientific entities continued to provide assistance to the Iranian projects, such as the secret 40MW heavy-water production plant at Arak or the development of laser enrichment capabilities.
8. In the beginning of the millennium it became evident that Iran was seeking to develop fully-fledged nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. Substantial reserves of uranium ore were discovered as early as 1985 at Saghand in the Yazd province. In 2000, Iran formerly declared the Esfahan conversion facility to the IAEA. At the same time the Iranian scientists and engineers were able to begin their first centrifuge-based uranium enrichment tests. In 2000, the country began construction of secret pilot- and industrial-scale centrifuge facilities at Natanz. The heavy water capabilities in Arak were also being developed in the same period of time. Tehran denied the existence of Natanz and Arak facilities, until the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian opposition group, revealed it in August 2002. These events convinced many in the West that Iran was planning to become a nuclear power relying solely on indigenous resources.
9. In February 2003, Iranian President Khatami officially acknowledged the existence of the Natanz and Arak facilities and full fuel cycle plans. The IAEA officials visited Iran several times and were allowed to take environmental samples at the Natanz facility. The analysis of these samples revealed particles of both low enriched-uranium (LEU) and high-enriched uranium (HEU). The Iranian authorities attributed the particles of HEU to contamination originating from imported centrifuge components, thereby indirectly admitting that Iran had collaborated with the A. Q. Kahn network. In his report to the IAEA Board of Governors (BoG), in November 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director-General, revealed the scope of Iran's covert nuclear programme, including development of uranium enrichment, conversion and reprocessing capabilities. Dr. ElBaradei concluded that, "Iran has failed to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement". The BoG reiterated this message in the subsequent resolution, choosing, however, not to refer the issue to the UN Security Council; the option preferred by the US.
10. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the so-called EU-3, took the initiative, striving primarily for engagement, rather than confrontation, with Iran. Iran agreed to co-operate with the IAEA and to thereby be fully transparent. They hence signed the Additional Protocol to the NPT,1 and suspended all enrichment and reprocessing activities for an "interim period." Iran signed the Additional Protocol on 18 December 2003. Although the Iranian Parliament never ratified this Protocol, Iran voluntarily abided by it until February 2006, considering it as a 'voluntary confidence-building measure'.
11. In 2004 co-operation between Iran and the IAEA progressed with mixed success. Despite suspension, Iran believed it had retained the right to proceed with some less sensitive, fuel-cycle-related work. In summer 2004, the BoG of IAEA again criticized Iran for its failure to provide the agency with "full, timely and pro-active co-operation". In response to such criticism, Iran announced plans to resume enrichment activities at Natanz, as well as conversion activities at Esfahan. The tensions were partly settled in November 2004, when the foreign ministers of the EU-3, Iran and the EU High Representative Javier Solana signed a new agreement in Paris. Iran agreed to sustain the suspension,2 while the EU-3 agreed to prepare a number of proposals to guarantee fuel supplies to Iran.
12. In August 2005, when the EU-3 was about to present a package of detailed European proposals, Tehran unilaterally decided to resume uranium conversion activities in Esfahan. Ever since, the tension has been escalating rapidly. Following the IAEA Director General's report, the BoG adopted a resolution (22 in favour, 12 abstentions and 1 against)3 on 24 September 2005, finding Iran in non-compliance with its obligations under the Safeguards Agreement.
13. In January 2006, Iran removed 52 UN seals at Natanz uranium enrichment plant and resumed research on nuclear power. Iran also announced that it would no longer comply with voluntary measures (Additional Protocol) designed to enhance international inspectors' access to its nuclear facilities. On 4 February 2006, the BoG voted to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council, albeit leaving one month for Iran to revise its policy. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 27 in favour, 3 against and 5 abstentions, reflects increasing suspicion around the world that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons. The report of Dr. ElBaradei (February 2006) once again noted that Iran was advancing its uranium enrichment programme. However, the IAEA still was not able to determine whether the country was secretly developing nuclear weapons.
14. In March 2006 the UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement calling on Iran "to take the steps required by the IAEA BoG," and particularly "to establish a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities." The government of Iran responded by announcing on 12 April 2006 that it had successfully re-processed uranium to a level of 3.6%, and later by declaring that it would not comply with the UN deadline. The IAEA follow-up report on 28 April concluded that there was no new evidence that Iran's nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
15. While negotiations in response to these announcements began at the Security Council in New York, the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany (known as the P5+1) agreed at a meeting of Foreign Ministers in Vienna on 1 June 2006 to a package of incentives and disincentives to deliver to Iran. In return for Iran halting uranium enrichment, the governments would resume negotiations with the country and would offer a set of incentives, reported to include assistance in building a light-water reactor, a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel, a dialogue on regional security issues, membership of the WTO, and the easing of US trade sanctions on Iran, including those on spare parts for civilian aircraft. Additionally, the US announced that it would join the talks directly. Reported disincentives include travel bans for individuals associated with the nuclear programme, asset freezes, bans on investment in certain areas of Iranian activity, and an embargo on missile and nuclear technologies. Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, responded that, "The proposals contain positive steps and also some ambiguities, which must be removed." Iran announced that it was ready for "serious talks" but would not suspend its programme in advance. The US State Department stated that the Iranian response "falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council."
16. Meanwhile, diplomats at the Security Council reached an agreement on 31 July, and issued Resolution 1696, which gave Iran until 31 August to stop uranium enrichment. It also threatens sanctions under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter if Iran does not comply to these appeals. On August 6, Tehran announced its rejection of the UN Resolution. Instead, the new IAEA report confirmed that Iran began a new round of uranium enrichment, and the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, described the IAEA report as a red flag which provides ample evidence of Iranian defiance.4 On 21 August Iranian authorities refused to allow IAEA inspectors entry into an underground laboratory at Natanz and at the time this paper was written, members of the UN Security Council hold consultations on subsequent actions. The West and the US in particular are inclined to impose sanctions against Iran, for, as President G. W. Bush has put it, "there must be consequences for Iran's defiance".5
B. NUCLEAR-FUEL-CYCLE RELATED FACILITIES
1. Mining and milling
17. Iran has its own reserves of uranium ore, but they are not rich. Proven reserves include more than 3,000 tons of uranium oxide. However, it is possible that further exploration will result in discovery of additional resources at the range of 20,000-30,000 tons of uranium oxide.
18. The largest uranium mine in Saghand reportedly has 1,55 million tons of uranium-bearing ore. However, natural uranium constitutes only 0.05% of the total; that is to say approximately 775 tons. The deposits are situated deep below the surface, thus making the extraction process costly. Iran plans to reprocess 100-120 thousand tons of Saghand ore annually, producing 59-70 tons of yellowcake (containing 50-60 tons of natural uranium). Iran also opened a smaller near-surface mine at Gchine, which is expected to supply more than 20 tons of uranium annually. Construction of milling facilities both at Saghand6 and Gchine is nearing completion. In developing its mining and milling capabilities, Iran has received significant assistance from Russia and China.
19. According to media reports, Iran has recently made a new breakthrough in its 'yellowcake' production programme, successfully using biotechnology. According to the manager of this Iranian project, "the new technique used for the production of yellowcake will reduce costs, and efficiency will increase one hundred-fold as well."7
20. Iranian scientists started some small-scale covert uranium conversion activities (i.e., converting yellowcake into UF6 gas to make uranium suitable for enrichment in centrifuges) at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center (ENTC) in the 1980s, as well as at the TNRC in the 1990s. Considerable assistance was once again provided by China, including a significant supply of uranium compounds in 1991, which Iran did not declare to the IAEA. These compounds included 1.9 kg of UF6, 402 kg of UF4 and about 400 kg of natural UO2. In 2000, the Iranian government informed the IAEA that a plant for uranium conversion was being constructed at Esfahan. The conversion plant is intended to have process lines for production of UF6, unenriched uranium dioxide UO2 (which can be used as fuel in certain reactors, such as heavy-water reactors), and uranium metal (potentially usable in fabrication of some elements for reactors as well as for weapons, including nuclear weapons). Conversion activities in Iran were officially suspended in 2003, and restarted in August 2005. Between September 2005 and May 2006, Iran had already produced 110 metric tonnes of UF6 at its uranium-conversion facility in Esfahan; enough to produce more than 20 atomic bombs once Iran has developed the technology for full-scale enrichment.
21. Iran's uranium enrichment programme is based on gas centrifuge technology, although some progress has been made in laser enrichment as well.
22. Centrifuge programme. Iran has been engaged in some initial centrifuge-based enrichment research and development since 1985. Covert activities mostly took place at the Kalaye Electric Company facility. In 2003, Iran admitted that gas centrifuges were tested at this site with uranium gas between 1998 and 2002. However, Iran claims that it did not enrich uranium beyond 1.2 % U-235. Samples of HEU particles, later found by the IAEA inspectors at Kalaye, and well at the Natanz facility, were attributed to imported Pakistani centrifuges.
23. As revealed in 2002, Iran has been constructing a pilot-scale centrifuge facility and a larger, as 320 km-yet incomplete, industrial-scale centrifuge facility, both located at Natanz, approximately 200 miles south of Tehran. Iran planned to install up to 1,000 P-1 centrifuges (organized in 6 cascades) at the pilot fuel enrichment plant (PFEF). Before suspension of work in November 2004, the site contained one 164-centrifuge test cascade, however, the commercial-scale fuel enrichment facility (FEP) is expected to house over 50,000 centrifuges. In addition to the P-1 centrifuges, designs and components, which are widely believed to have been acquired from the A. Q. Kahn network, Iran has a programme to develop the considerably more advanced P-2 model (which is also associated with Kahn's network). Disclosure of the P-2 plans raised suspicions in the West that Iran was pursuing clandestine military-related enrichment activities in some undiscovered facilities. Iran has procured magnets useful in the P-2 process from Asian suppliers, and as the country has sought to acquire about 4,000 of these magnets, it seems that Iran's P-2 centrifuge programme might well be larger than officially declared. However, IAEA inspectors were unable to find any evidence substantiating such claims.
24. After the suspension period in 2003-5, Iran announced resumption of uranium enrichment work at the Natanz 164-centrifuge test cascade in January 2006, though these test centrifuges will first need repairs or replacements, following damages which occured during the suspension. This will undoubtedly take at least six months to one year, and thereafter new larger cascades, able to produce significant amounts of enriched uranium, will need to be produced.
25. Laser enrichment. Iran's laser enrichment programme dates back to the 1970s and is based on two main techniques: atomic vapour laser isotope separation (AVLIS) and molecular isotope separation (MLIS). The laser isotope research and development programme was conducted at two facilities: Lashkar Ab'ad laser laboratory and TNRC's Laser Research Center. Although Iran's initial denial of laser enrichment activities gave rise to some suspicion, the IAEA believes that these works do not pose serious non-proliferation threats. Laser enrichment techniques are extremely sophisticated, and Iran, despite receiving some assistance from China (and, allegedly, Russia) was, to date, only able to produce insignificant quantities of LEU.
4. Fuel Fabrication
26. Iran's progress in fuel fabrication has been slow, though the country admitted having conducted a series of laboratory-scale operations at the Fuel Fabrication Laboratory of the ENTC between 1985 and 1993. However, the plans for construction of a commercial-scale fuel fabrication plant (FMP) at Esfahan were announced only recently. This facility is expected to produce both low-enriched UO2 fuel pellets (for the Bushehr light-water reactor) and natural UO2 pellets (for heavy-water reactors). It is difficult to predict when such a plant will become operational, but it is likely that the FMP will take years to produce sufficient quantities of fuel for the Bushehr plant to operate effectively.
27. The light-water plant at Bushehr, the key element of Iran's nuclear power generation programme, is a joint project with the Russian Federation. According to the Russian-Iranian agreement of 1995, Russia was to invest $800 million to build a 1,000 MW pressurised light-water reactor, based on Russian designs. The Bushehr facility is almost complete, but since Iran is not yet able to produce enough indigenous fuel for the Bushehr reactor, Russian supplies will be needed for several years. The key pre-condition of this agreement was that the spent fuel be returned to Russia, thereby depriving Iran of the possibility of extracting plutonium from the spent fuel. After lengthy negotiations, in February 2005 Iran and Russia finally reached an agreement on long-term Russian nuclear fuel supplies for the Bushehr facility.
28. The capacity of the Bushehr plant (1,000 MW) is not sufficient to meet Iran's ambitious plans for nuclear power generation (7,000 MW by 2020), and therefore, Iran is also considering constructing up to six additional reactor facilities, which may or may not be located at Bushehr. Russia's assistance is critical to achieving this goal.
29. Iran also operates four small research reactors (one in Tehran and three in Esfahan), but they do not seem capable of producing significant quantities of fissile material.
30. Iran has also been engaged in efforts to develop heavy water technology, having announced plans in 2003 to construct a 40MW heavy water moderated research reactor (IR-40) at Khondab near Arak. The foundations for IR-40 were laid in 2004, and works proceed at a rapid pace. Iran claims that IR-40 is designed purely for the production of industrial and medical radioisotopes, but many Western experts believe it is larger than would be needed for research purposes. If operating to full capacity, this reactor has the potential to produce up to 14kg of plutonium annually (enough to construct 2 nuclear bombs).
31. The heavy water for the IR-40 reactor is to be produced at the Arak Heavy Water Production Plant (HWPP), the construction of which began in 1990s and was revealed in 2002, and subsequently inaugurated in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 26 August 2006. The IR-40 reactor requires approximately 80-90 tons of heavy water, while Arak's HWPP official capacity is only 16 tons of heavy water per year. Two Russian nuclear research institutes are suspected of having assisted Iran in developing its heavy water technologies.
32. In its declaration to the IAEA in 2003, Iran claimed that it had no plans to develop a tangible reprocessing capability, though it admitted having conducted some laboratory-scale reprocessing experiments at TNRC in 1990s, using "glove boxes" in a "hot cell".8 Although the IAEA inspections found some discrepancies in Iran's report, in general, the country's progress in reprocessing R&D is not considered significant.
7. Waste management
33. Iran constructed waste storage sites at Karaj (related to the laser enrichment programme), Anarak and Tehran (waste resulting from the processing of the imported material is being stored in both sites). A new storage facility is also being designed for Esfahan.
34. This brief overview indicates that Iran is seeking, sometimes with mixed success, to master each step of the nuclear fuel cycle.
35. It is far from easy to attempt to assess Iran's nuclear programme in terms of its peacefulness. Most nuclear fuel cycle technologies can be of dual use, and, as a former chairman of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, David Bergmann, put it, "...By developing atomic energy for peaceful uses, you reach the nuclear weapon option. There are not two atomic energies."9
36. The very fact that Iran joined the NPT in early 1970s (although it could have followed the path of India, Pakistan or Israel) indicates that - at least originally - the nuclear programme was meant to be peaceful. Later, numerous reports were published on the country's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, yet intelligence was not able to provide firm evidence of that. A 1992 CIA estimate suggested that Iran would possess a nuclear bomb by 2000, which seemingly was not the case.
37. Nevertheless, based on all the indirect evidence, one can draw some conclusions about the nature of Iran's nuclear endeavours. Many prominent experts envisage that in a few years it will become a nuclear weapons' state (most predictions vary between 2009 and 2012). Estimates are usually based on the supposed timeframe within which Iran can develop its nuclear technology, which vary according to assessments of its known nuclear capabilities. However, the possibility of an undisclosed nuclear programme, albeit unlikely, should not be completely ruled out.10
1. The potential for producing weapons-grade material
38. From a technological standpoint, leaving aside political considerations, Iran's ability to produce sufficient quantities of weapons-grade fissile material depends upon the progress made at the Natanz enrichment facility (for production of HEU), with the light-water reactor in Bushehr and the heavy-water reactor in Arak (for production of weapons grade plutonium).
39. The pilot enrichment facility at Natanz (PFEP) is only partially furnished (164 centrifuges of the planned 1,000), and, according to the analysis of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), it would require no less than 13 to 17 years for such a 164-centrifuge plant, operating under ideal conditions, to produce enough HEU for a single nuclear bomb (approximately 25 kg). If operating to full capacity with all 1,000 centrifuges (reports suggest that Iran might be not too far away from achieving this goal, since it has manufactured components for more than a thousand P-1 centrifuges), PFEP would still need more than two years to produce 25 kg of HEU. If, however, the large (50,000-centrifuge) commercial scale facility (FEP) becomes fully operational (which still is at least a decade away), Iran would be able to produce enough HEU for 1 nuclear bomb within 2-3 weeks (or for approximately 20 nuclear bombs per year).11
40. The above estimates are based on the assumption that the enrichment facility operates on natural uranium. Yet, if LEU is used as feed material, HEU can be produced up to seven times faster. It should be noted, however, that Iran's PFEF will not be capable of producing sufficient quantities of LEU for some years. Another option might thus be the use of imported LEU; for example, Russian LEU designated for the Bushehr plant. Efficiency would also be increased more than two-fold, if P-1 centrifuges were replaced by more advanced P-2.12
41. On the other hand, a technology reconfiguration factor also needs to be taken into account. Centrifuge cascades at the Natanz pilot plant are designed to produce LEU, and it would take many months to optimise this for HEU production. If the IAEA monitoring was sustained, such reconfiguration activities would be impossible to conceal. However, the large enrichment facility, such as FEP, could potentially start producing HEU without essential reconfiguration. Various technological hurdles are likely to delay Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme by at least one to two years.
42. To estimate Iran's ability to produce a plutonium-based nuclear bomb is even more difficult. There is very little evidence that the country is developing a spent fuel-reprocessing capability, apart from covert, laboratory-scale experiments in 1988-98, when Iranian scientists produced a small amount of plutonium outside the IAEA safeguards. Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh, Research and Technology Deputy at the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, explicitly stated that the fuel for Iran's nuclear reactors will be produced exclusively from the uranium ore and not from reprocessed uranium.13 Nevertheless, there are indications that Iran seeks to attain the capacity to separate plutonium from spent fuel. According to French experts, Iran has sought to acquire high-density radiation shielding windows for "hot cells" and 28 remote manipulators from the French nuclear sector. Such equipment is designed for the extraction of plutonium from spent reactor fuel.14
43. In addition, the heavy-water technology programme at Arak seems to advance rapidly, thereby enabling Iran to obtain a considerable amount of spent fuel from natural uranium. A number of experts note that the type of heavy-water reactor Iran is constructing is larger than necessary for research, and some countries have used it to produce bombs.15
44. The light-water reactor in Bushehr, although a purely civilian enterprise, might also pose some proliferation threat. According to a comprehensive study by the US Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, light-water reactors are not nearly so "proliferation resistant" as has been widely suggested. Theoretically, the Bushehr nuclear power reactor could produce sufficient amounts of spent fuel to accumulate substantial quantities of weapons-grade plutonium within only a few months of operating.16 However, it should be noted that, according to the Iranian-Russian agreement, all spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr reactor will be returned to the country of origin, i.e. Russia.
2. Iran's record of concealment
45. Iran is not the only country in the world seeking to develop a full nuclear cycle capability for peaceful use. Under certain conditions, this right is granted to all nations under Article IV of the NPT. The problem lies elsewhere; there is a lack of trust in Iran due to its long history of concealment of its nuclear research and activities. Admission of these activities has been grudging and piecemeal. Even during the period of relatively extensive co-operation with the IAEA in 2002-5, Iran, as outlined in IAEA reports, was engaged in a systematic practice of denial and misleading statements. For example:
* It failed to acknowledge its enrichment programme at Natanz until it was publicly revealed in 2002. Even after the revelation, Tehran presented false information concerning the duration of the enrichment activities.
46. Tehran denounces most allegations of deception. Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali A. Soltanieh, asserted that, in most cases, these allegations are unsubstantiated. The laboratory scale research in Iran, he argued, was very limited, and their results were not deliberately concealed. Plutonium separation activities were paltry, and effectively terminated in 1993. The dismantled equipment was presented to the Agency's inspectors. With regard to initially undeclared facilities at Natanz, Iran argues that a country is not obliged to report such facilities to the IAEA when constructions begin, but only 180 days before nuclear material is to be introduced to a facility.
47. Simultaneously, Iran believes it has always been in full compliance with its obligations under the NPT, and allowed extraordinary access to its facilities in order to build international confidence in its nuclear programme. Iran claims that it only failed to declare some experiments and equipment, and that such oversights are also common amongst other NPT members. "Intrusive" IAEA inspections have never found evidence that Iran's programme is anything other than peaceful. Furthermore, Iran signed the Additional Protocol in December 2003, has allowed about 1,700 inspection-hours and more than 20 surprise inspections by the IAEA. It has also permitted inspections of military facilities, which it believes it is not required to do. Most importantly, Iran had voluntarily ceased uranium enrichment for more than two years, as requested by the EU-3, in order to show that it was negotiating in good faith. This cessation was not required by any law or treaty, and therefore legitimate changes could be made at any time.
48. Conversely, Iran believes that their "peaceful nuclear programme" has been the object of a Western campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention, and misinformation. Iran's attempts to buy nuclear materials have been illegally blocked as has its ability to become a shareholder in international corporations.
3. Co-operation with A. Q. Kahn's network
49. Another source of mistrust in Iran's nuclear endeavours relates to its past relations with the clandestine network of Dr. A. Q. Kahn. Iran would not have been able to achieve such significant progress in nuclear technology, had it not received essential centrifuge equipment, designs and know-how from this Pakistani proliferator, specific examples of which are mentioned throughout this report.
4. Economic rationale of nuclear policy
50. The Iranian leadership believes that, as members of the NPT, the country has an "inalienable" right to peaceful nuclear technology, including the mastery of the entire nuclear fuel cycle. This principle is fundamental to all other decisions made by the leadership in Tehran, and seems to drive their negotiation strategy. Iran declares that it needs nuclear power for its future energy requirements, as its supply of oil and gas is finite, while its population is growing rapidly. Moreover, Iranian leaders are keen to produce their own nuclear fuel, rather than buy it internationally, not only for economic reasons, but also because Iran does not want its energy needs to be vulnerable to the political whims of other countries.
51. A number of experts question the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme by arguing that Iran it no reason to generate nuclear power, since it possesses natural gas and oil in great abundance.17 Your Rapporteur does not share such emphatic claims. Indeed, under current rates of production and consumption, Iran's known oil resources will be depleted in 88 years, and natural gas resources in 220 years. However, Iran's population is growing at an incredible pace, having more than doubled during last three decades. Electricity consumption is also growing exponentially. Thus, Tehran has the right to prepare for the future with some further diversification of its energy policy, and it cannot rely exclusively on fossil energy. In addition, it might appear economically wise to increase exports of oil and gas by decreasing internal consumption of these resources.
52. However, it remains questionable whether Iran really needs to develop all elements of the nuclear fuel cycle. For example, Tehran's investment in uranium ore mining and milling does not make much sense in economic terms. In addition to being difficult and costly to extract, Iran's known uranium deposits would be insufficient to provide adequate amounts fuel for the lifetime of Iran's only Bushehr reactor, yet Iran plans to construct several additional reactors. Even if all speculative (not proven) uranium deposits were found and extracted, it would not be possible to sustain seven reactors on indigenous fuel for more than a few years. On the other hand, theoretically Iranian uranium reserves could produce a significant number of nuclear weapons.
53. It is obvious that Iran will have to rely on foreign (most probably Russian) supplies of nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors, which suggests that there is no clear economic justification for the huge, 50,000-centrifuges enrichment facility planned at Natanz.
54. The international community is trying to talk Iran out of developing all nuclear cycle capabilities by suggesting other options. The famous "Russian proposal", which has won support from other UN Security Council members, including the US, would allow Iran to obtain the enriched uranium it needs for civilian nuclear power directly from Russia, and to send back all spent fuel to Russia. That would remove a key process in the development of a nuclear programme from Iranian hands, but still allow Tehran to develop the peaceful energy programme it claims to need. Unfortunately, Iranian negotiators seem to object to such plans, being determined to maintain their right to retain some level of enrichment activity in Iran.
55. At this stage, it is unclear whether Russia or Iran would be conducting the fuel fabrication. If Iran were allowed to take possession of the LEU that has not been converted into fuel, it could potentially use it to fuel a clandestine enrichment plant for production of HEU.
56. Most experts say concrete action from the Russians is unlikely at present. The process is likely to drag on for months. If the deal does not succeed, Iran certainly will run out of options to gain more time, and UN Security Council intervention is inevitable.
5. Involvement of the military
57. Finally, critics of Iran assert that its military is highly involved in the nuclear programme, thereby revealing the programme's genuine purpose. In January 2006, the IAEA issued a short report which stated that they possess evidence of a possible interconnection between Iran's nuclear programme and military activities. For instance, seven of the 13 Iranian workshops involved in producing centrifuge components are located on sites controlled by the Iranian Ministry of Defense.18
58. Furthermore, the NCRI, the Iranian dissident organization, announced that Iran had been testing explosives at Parchin and and Lavizan II military bases for use in an implosion-type nuclear weapon. IAEA inspectors visited the Parchin military complex and found nothing suspicious. Nevertheless, doubts remain, as the IAEA is repeatedly seeking access to these sites in order to continue its investigation.
59. A state is not a nuclear weapons' state simply because it produces a critical mass of fissile material. Additional devices, such as trigger mechanisms, are also required, as are the means to deliver a nuclear weapon, i.e., missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
A. BUILDING A BOMB
60. No confirmed evidence suggests that Iran has worked on nuclear bomb designs. However, based on indirect data, some reports suggest that Iran could be trying to make a nuclear device. British, French, German and Belgian intelligence agencies prepared a 55-page intelligence assessment, dated 1 July 2005, which has been used to brief European government ministers. According to the assessment, Iran has, with apparent success, sought to obtain sophisticated equipment and expertise in order to develop a nuclear bomb, in some European countries.19
61. Indications that point to Iran's alleged interest in constructing a nuclear device include:
* In November 2005, IAEA inspectors discovered that Iran received information from the A.Q. Khan network regarding the casting and machining of uranium metal into hemispherical forms. The only known use for these forms is in nuclear weapons. The latest IAEA report of August 2006 apparently stated that Iran still failed to provide convincing explanations on this matter.
62. In response to such allegations, Iran declares that not only does it have no intention of producing nuclear weapons, but also that Iran does not need nuclear weapons to ensure its security. It claims to be the strongest country in the region already, and believes that the best way to improve relations with its neighbours is to gain their confidence, not to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, given the state of technological development that the current nuclear weapons states have reached, it would be unrealistically expensive for Iran to try to develop a nuclear deterrence capability. Finally, Iran has religious objections to producing WMD, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa against them.
B. MISSILE PROGRAMME
63. Iran maintains a serious missile programme, and is developing an indigenous missile production capability. It has received substantial technological aid and know-how from a number of countries, amongst them Russia, North Korea and China. Missile imports in the recent past - notably from North Korea, Syria, and Libya - also contributed in a major way to Iran's arsenal, and played a significant role in its development.
1. Short-range ballistic missiles
64. Currently the Scud B guided missile (or the Shahab 1) forms the core of Iran's ballistic missile forces. It is a relatively old Soviet design that first became operational in 1967. With a range of 290-300km it is capable of hitting cities like Baghdad. Able to carry a 1,000kg warhead, it can be equipped with nuclear, as well as biological and chemical, warheads. According to most estimates, Iran now has up to 250-300 Scud B missiles, and is capable of manufacturing virtually all parts of the missile, with the possible exception of the most sophisticated components. Iran also possesses newer long-range North Korean Scuds, often referred to as Scud C or Shahab 2, (800kg warhead with 500km range). Most sources report that they have over 100 of these missiles. The older and improved versions of Scuds are likely to have adequate range to enable Iran to strike targets on the southern coast of the Gulf and most of the populated areas in Iraq.
2. Medium-range ballistic missiles
65. Numerous reports attest that Iran has ordered the North Korean No Dong missile, which was designed with the capacity to carry nuclear warheads with ranges up to 900km. The No Dong 1 is a liquid fueled missile with a range of 1000 to 1300km, which would allow the missile to hit virtually any target in the Gulf, Turkey and, Israel. Iran was also interested in the Tapeo Dong 1 and Tapeo Dong 2. The estimated maximum ranges of them are 2000 and 3500km respectively.
66. Since the early 1990's, it has become clear that Iran is developing its own longer-range variants of the No Dong with substantial Russian and Chinese aid. Israeli reports indicated that the Shahab 3 was a liquid-fueled missile with a range of 1200 to 1500km. It is known to be a very accurate weapon, carrying a warhead of one ton and was first displayed at a military parade in 1998, with the carrier bearing signs saying, "The US can do nothing" and "Israel will be wiped from the map". Iran claims that the Shahab 3 had entered serial production in early 2001, and by now, Iran is believed to have more than 30 Shahab 3s. According to NCRI and other sources, the Shahab 4 system with a range of 2000km, although officially abandoned in 2003, is still being developed.
3. Long-range ballistic missiles and the space programme
67. Based on up-to-date reports, Iran does not yet have long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at its disposal, nor the capability to manufacture them. Analysis differs on the likely timing of Iran's first flight test of an ICBM that could threaten Europe and the US. Assessments suggest it is likely before 2010, and very probable before 2015.
68. There are conflicting reports, amongst them some statements by Iranian officials on the development of the Shahab missile family. The Shahab 5 is expected to have a range of between 3500 and 4300km with a one ton warhead, and there is apparently an improved version, called the Shahab 6, carrying the same warhead to ranges up to between 5500 and 6200km. The development status of these missiles remains unclear, though progress is likely to be slow as it greatly depends on foreign aid in technology and 'know-how'.
69. Some reports speculate that Iran is pursuing a space programme as well. Considerable concern has been expressed that the country is trying to disguise its ballistic missile programme under a peaceful space launch project. According to the former head of Israel's anti-missile programme Uzi Rubin, Iran is aggressively pursuing space launch technology that would enable it to launch satellites. He calculated that Iran "could launch a 300kg [660-pound] satellite within two years, something that would pose a strategic threat to both Israel and the US"20
70. The US 2001 National Intelligence Estimate indicated that Iran could launch a space launch vehicle (SLV) in the second half of the decade. In 2004, this notion was reiterated by the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.
71. The case of Iran clearly illustrates the vulnerabilities of the current international system of nuclear non-proliferation. If unchallenged, Iran's example could be emulated by its neighbours, thus further escalating tensions in the region. Under Article IV of the NPT, the Non-Nuclear Weapons State is given an "inalienable right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy", only if it agrees to forego nuclear weapons capabilities and to co-operate fully with the IAEA under the Safeguards agreement. The major difficulty is that the present international norm is too permissive.
72. The fact that Iran violated the NPT was recorded in June 2003, in Dr. ElBaradei's report to the IAEA Board of Governors. The IAEA has documented an extensive list of such instances. However, the NPT does not provide tangible and automatic sanctions against such violators. Furthermore, it cannot provide effective instruments for the international community to deal with possible 'break out' scenarios. The treaty also fails to effectively address the problem of the dual-use nature of nuclear reactors and fissile materials. Finally, the IAEA's verification authority remains limited, even when a country is found to be in non-compliance.
73. Unfortunately, the NPT Review Conference in New York in May 2005, which expected to address these issues, ended fruitlessly, which is particularly disappointing as the next conference will take place only in 2010. Differences over Iran were one of the major reasons for the lack of any positive outcome from the conference. Despite the failure of the Review Conference, follow-up meetings should continue in all possible formats.
74. Needless to say, the NPT/IAEA inspection system needs to be more robust. Pierre Goldschmidt, former head of the IAEA Safeguards department, urged the UN Security Council to adopt a generic binding resolution to establish automatic consequences when a state has been found to be in non-compliance with its safeguards agreement by the IAEA. Such consequences should include:
1. The agency's verification authority should be immediately widened, giving inspectors immediate access to relevant locations, individuals and documents.
75. Various experts, diplomats and politicians suggested a number of additional measures, such as:
* Increasing the costs of withdrawal from the treaty by requiring the state in question to surrender and dismantle its nuclear capabilities obtained within the framework of the NPT. Violators should also no longer be allowed to receive nuclear assistance or exports from any other NPT member state.
76. The information available on Iran's nuclear programme explains why the questions about its peacefulness are raised by the international community. It is quite evident that Iran has been seeking to develop all elements of the nuclear fuel cycle, although its progress in different areas is not comparable. For instance, while Iran's ultimate enrichment plans of a 50,000-centrifuge facility are extremely ambitious; Tehran does not seem very resolute upon building a plant to fabricate fuel for reactors. Iran is determined to vigorously exploit its modest uranium ore mines and to convert the yellowcake into 'hex' [uranium hexafluoride (UF6)]at Esfahan, yet it so far has been unable to present any tangible plans for building additional power reactors. In other words, Iran seems to make greater progress in those steps of nuclear fuel cycle that can be potentially used to create a HEU-based nuclear weapon. It is quite safe to assume that, technologically, Iran is only a few years from acquiring such weapons. While it is uncertain whether Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons, it nevertheless seems plausible that it seeks to acquire a "breakout" option, or, in the words of Ian Davis, Executive Director of the British American Security Information Council, "Iran is positioning itself to establish a threshold 'virtual' nuclear weapon capability".21
77. On the other hand, existing data does not support the claim that Iran might be actively developing a plutonium bomb. The apparently peaceful purpose of extensive heavy-water-related activities at Arak may seem unconvincingly, but there is virtually no indication that Iran has acquired the necessary reprocessing capabilities and expertise to extract plutonium from the spent fuel.
78. It is practically impossible to conceal production of nuclear weapons material in a country that permits intrusive IAEA inspections. For example, to produce HEU at the Natanz pilot enrichment plant, visible reconfiguration of centrifuges would be required, which suggests that persuading Iran to revive its comprehensive co-operation with the Agency, based on the Additional Protocol, is vital to satisfying the international community. The presence of IAEA inspections does not, in any way, impede Iran's declared target of peaceful nuclear energy.
79. The resolution of the current crisis will have a profound impact upon the global nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole, and therefore, related decisions need to be thought-out, well balanced, and based upon reliable, technological analysis. Although, according to the famous quote of Dr. ElBaradei, the patience of the international community is running out, Your Rapporteur is convinced that there is still time and room to try to engage Iran in co-operation, and to thereby avoid drastic measures and confrontation. Unfortunately, however, intelligence on Iran's nuclear programme is lacking; for example, a congressional report of 23 August 2006 warned that the US "lacks critical information needed for analysts to make many of their judgements with confidence about Iran".22
80. In the light of Iran's apparent reluctance to relinquish its uranium enrichment programme and accept the comprehensive P5+1 "package of incentives", some analysts suggest a compromise whereby Iran's right to enrich uranium would not be contested, providing that the scale of the enrichment (i.e. the number of centrifuges) is strictly limited. In the case of Iran, the genie - nuclear enrichment - is out of the bottle, therefore it might be wise to accept it and put it under stringent international monitoring. Along those lines, the International Crisis Group suggests that the "delayed limited enrichment" plan, would be explicitly accepted by the West, on the grounds that Iran has the "right to enrich." Iran, on the other hand, should agree to "a several years delay in the commencement of its enrichment programme, major limitations on its initial size and scope, and a highly intrusive inspections regime".23
81. Your Rapporteur believes that the immediate suspension of the enrichment by Iran would be the optimal solution. Even limited enrichment activities would greatly contribute to the know-how of Iranian nuclear scientists. The overview of Iran's past nuclear ventures implies that one cannot be sure that this knowledge would be used for solely peaceful purposes. While it is virtually unfeasible to control nuclear R&D in an unco-operative country, it does appear to be worthwhile trying to hinder such clandestine activities as much as possible.
The era of nuclear energy started with Albert Einstein's famous equation, E=mc², which states that mass and energy are equivalent to one another. Since c (the speed of light) is a huge amount (300,000 km/s), especially when squared, even a tiny bit of mass can be converted into an enormous amount of energy. The physicists discovered that some heavy atoms spontaneously divide, or split, into lighter atoms, and that a considerable amount of energy is yielded in the process.
Uranium is the heaviest of all the naturally occurring elements, and is found in the earth's crust, essentially as a mixture of two isotopes (forms of one chemical element with different number of neutrons): uranium-238 (U-238), accounting for 99.3% and U-235 about 0.7%.24 The latter is the cornerstone of nuclear power generation as it is less stable and therefore undergoes breaks up much more readily. Hit by a neutron, U-235 atom splits into lighter elements, such as barium and krypton, at the same time emitting 2 or 3 highly energetic neutrons. These neutrons, in turn, hit other U-235 atoms, thereby causing a chain reaction. The mass of U-235, plus the neutron coming in, is slightly bigger than the aggregate mass of all the elements after the break up. According to the Einstein's formula this minuscule loss of mass converts into an immense outburst of energy.
Uranium, or "nuclear", fuel cycle (NFC) is a complex combination of techniques for nuclear power generation. NFC is a much more complicated and compound process than the fuel cycles of oil, natural gas or coal, and can be divided into three major parts:
1. The "front end" of NFC, i.e., preparing uranium for use in a nuclear reactor. The "front end" includes steps such as:
Mining and milling. Although uranium occurs naturally in most rocks and seawater, only a small fraction is found in concentrated ore. Uranium-bearing ore can be mined on the surface, underground, or using in situ25 leaching. The mined ore then goes to a milling facility, where, through a series of mechanical (grinding) and chemical processes, uranium oxide (U308) concentrate (also known as yellowcake) is separated from a waste rock. The yellow cake typically contains more than 60% uranium. The yellowcake is the form in which uranium is sold. The waste from the mill, called mill tailings, is 99% of the weight of the original ore.
Conversion. Before it can be enriched, uranium has to be in gas-form. Hence, at a conversion facility, the yellowcake (U308) is, through a number of chemical processes, converted into the gas uranium hexafluoride (UF6, often referred to as 'hex'), which becomes gas at relatively low temperatures.26 The process of conversion is also used to remove impurities which remain after milling. UF6 can also be converted into a uranium metal (this process is called reduction), which can be used to fabricate some elements for reactors as well as for nuclear weapons.
Enrichment. The uranium enrichment process serves to increase the proportion of radioactive U-235 isotope at the expense of U-238. For most commercial nuclear power reactors, it is sufficient to increase the proportion of the U-235 from its natural level of 0.7% to 3-4%. The research reactors normally use 12-20% enriched uranium. Uranium enriched above the natural U-235 level, but to less than 20 %, is called 'low-enriched' (LEU).
Uranium enriched to 20 % or more U-235 is called 'high-enriched' (HEU). The nuclear-bomb-grade uranium contains more than 90% U-235, though for a crude weapon even 20% might be sufficient. HEU is also used to power warships, particularly nuclear submarines.
Several enrichment techniques have been used:
Other less known and used techniques include aerodynamic enrichment processes, chemical and ion exchange, and plasma separation. At present, the gaseous diffusion and gas centrifuge techniques are the most commonly used uranium enrichment technologies.
Fuel fabrication. In a fuel fabrication plant, the enriched uranium is changed into an enriched uranium dioxide (UO2) powder. The powder is manufactured into small pellets, and loaded into metal tubes, forming fuel rods.
Power generation in reactors. The clusters of fuel rods (fuel assemblies) are placed at the core of the nuclear reactor, along with a moderator (which is used to slow down the chain reaction inside the reactor). Nuclear fission reactions inside of a reactor heat up water and produce steam, which drives a turbine connected to a generator that consequently emits electricity.
The reactors are of different types, depending on the fuel they use (enriched UO2 or natural uranium); type of coolant (water, heavy water, CO2) and type of moderator (water, heavy water, graphite). It is interesting to note that if graphite or heavy water27 are used as moderator, it is possible to run a power reactor on natural instead of enriched uranium. In a heavy-water reactor, plutonium28 (a by-product of nuclear processes inside of a reactor) can be bred from natural uranium. Thus, heavy water provides one more route to produce nuclear weapons.
Research reactors are a different type of nuclear reactor. They are much smaller than power reactors, and they are primarily used for professional training, scientific research, and medical radioisotope production. Many of them still operate with HEU.
Temporary spent fuel storage. Fuel rods are usually kept in reactors for several years. When removed, spent fuel is still emitting both radiation and heat, and therefore needs to be cooled, usually in a special pond at the reactor site. However, storing spent fuel in this way is only a temporary measure. Spent fuel needs either be reprocessed in order to recover a usable portion of the fuel, or it should be sent for long-term storage and final disposal.
Reprocessing and recycling. Spent fuel normally contains 96% uranium (of which approximately 1% is U-235), 1% plutonium and 3% waste products. Reprocessing is a chemical process that separates these waste products from uranium and plutonium. Uranium can be sent back to a conversion facility for a new cycle.
Waste management. Experts are still elaborating plans for nuclear waste management. The first permanent disposal is expected to occur around 2010. Meanwhile, the waste products are usually being turned into a special (borosilicate) glass and kept in steel canisters, while spent fuel rods (that were not recycled) are being encapsulated in corrosion-resistant metals.
2 The Paris agreement was more precise, leaving very little room for interpretation of what the suspension actually covers.
3 This was, in fact, the first time ever that the IAEA resolution was put to the vote. All previous IAEA resolutions were adopted by consensus.
4 Iran 'ignores nuclear deadline'. BBC News. 31 August 2006.
6 Actually in Ardakan, 130km from Saghand
7 Iran says has made new atomic breakthrough. Reuters. 30/08/2005
8 These techniques are used by scientists to manipulate dangerous objects or materials without their having direct contact with them. For instance, robotic arms are used in a "hot cell" chamber to manipulate spent nuclear fuel in order to separate plutonium.
9 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle: A Challenge for Nonproliferation. Lawrence Scheinman. Disarmament Diplomacy. Issue No. 76, March/April 2000
10 When asked if the IAEA had any indication that there was some other completely separate Iranian nuclear-weapons programme, Dr. ElBaradei replied: "No, we don't. But I won't exclude that possibility"
11 Iran's Strategic Weapons Programmes. A Net Assessment. IISS. 2005
13 Excerpts from an interview with Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh, Research and Technology Deputy, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, which aired on Channel 2, Iranian TV on 26 August 2006.
14 Iran's Nuclear Programme. Iran Watch. September 2004. www.iranwatch.org
15 For instance, Israel's Dimona or India's Cirus reactor.
16 Iran's Strategic Weapons Programmes. A Net Assessment. IISS. 2005.
17 Iran's oil reserves: roughly 10% of world total, second in the world. Natural gas reserves: 15,5% world total, also second in the world.
18 Iran and IAEA Agree on Action Plan; US, Europeans Not Satisfied. Paul Kerr. Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association May 2004
19 Secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile. The Guardian. Ian Cobain and Ian Traynor. 4 January 2006
20 Iran's Space Launch Programme May Put US at Nuclear Risk. Julie Stahl. CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief. 9 December 2005
21 Flawed Diplomacy with Iran is Doomed to Fail. Ian Davis. Jane's Defence Weekly. 13 September 2006
22 Recognising Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the US. Staff report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy. 23 August 2006
23 Iran: Is There a Way Out of the Nuclear Impasse? Policy Report. International Crisis Group. 23 February 2006
24 When being technically precise, it is worth noting the 0.0055% of U-234 isotope.
25 In situ leaching, also known as 'solution mining', is the method to extract uranium from underground ore bodies in place (in other words, in situ) using liquids, which are pumped through the ore to recover the minerals out of the ore by leaching. After the in situ leaching, uranium does not need to go through the milling process.
26 There is also another, less prevalent type of conversion: the 'yellowcake' is converted to unenriched uranium dioxide (U02), which can also be used in some types of research or power reactors that use heavy water or graphite as moderators.
27 'Heavy water', or deuterium oxide, is very similar to water (H2O), except that both hydrogen atoms have been replaced with deuterium, the isotope of hydrogen containing an additional neutron in its nucleus.
28 Plutonium is a heavy, artificially created element. It is formed from the U-238, when the latter is bombarded by neutrons in the reactor core. Plutonium isotope Pu-229 is one of two fissile elements (together with U-235) that provide a basis for contemporary nuclear power generation. Plutonium can be blended with uranium to produce a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, suitable for light water reactors. Plutonium can also be used to create a nuclear weapon. The critical mass for a plutonium-based nuclear weapons is merely 8 kg, less than twice the weight of a uranium-based weapon.