Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status and Implications

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Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status and Implications

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Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status and Implications

Olli HeinonenBelfer Center for Science and International AffairsHarvard Kennedy School 19 November, 2013


Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities Mining Gcchine Saghand

   Milling Gcchine Ardakan  Conversion Isfahan    Enrichment



Fuel Fabrication Isfahan   Reactors TRR Bushehr IR-40 Others, planned


Nuclear InfrastructureIran has not adhered to the resolutions of the UN Security Council, but continued to build the nuclear program including the supporting infrastructureIran continues to manufacture centrifuges and their componentsIran is increasing the production of key raw materials (zirconium, heavy water, high strength aluminum), but depending still on imports (

maraging steel, instrumentation)The net result: Iran is increasing its nuclear capabilities, but the international community knows less about them


20 % UF6 Is Not Medium Enriched Uranium


Production of Weapons Grade MaterialProduction of 1 Significant Quantity (SQ) of weapons grade uranium from natural uranium requires about 5000 Separative Work Unit (SWU) of enrichment effortSQ

-- The approximate quantity of nuclear material required to manufacture the first nuclear weapon taking into account the manufacturing losses.


Nuclear Material StockpilesCurrent stock of UF6Natural uranium

ca 425 metric tons3-5 % enriched uranium ca 7.1. metric tons20 % enriched uranium ca 200 kgQuantity of concern10 metric tons

1.3 metric tons

250 kg


Enrichment CapacityNatanz and

Fordow 18500 IR-1 centrifugesNatanz 1000 IR-2m centrifugesTotal number of centrifuges and rotors produced and their locations are not known


Break out ScenariosThere are various scenarios available starting with feeding of natural, 3-5 % or 20 % enriched UF6, in Natanz, Fordow, or elsewhere to produce weapons grade, 90 % enriched uranium.


Break out Times for 90 % UF6Examples of scenariosUse all current centrifuges in Natanz and

Fordow with natural uraniumUse all current centrifuges in Natanz and Fordow with 3-5 % uraniumUse 6000 IR-1 centrifuges as tandem cascades with 20 % uraniumUse 3000 IR-2ms at an unknown locationTime required for one SQ

6 months

2 months

2 weeks

1-2 weeks


Need for Enriched UraniumBushehr LWR has a contract for fuel with the Russians - annual reload 20 tons 4 % enriched uranium

- requires 120-140000 IR-1 centrifuges to produce - requires yellow cake importsTehran Research Reactor20 years ago Iran imported about 120 kg 20 % enriched fuel, which is close to being consumedIran has produced 410 kg 20 % enriched UF6 ( 274 kg uranium)Iran states that it plans for four additional research reactors, but has not disclosed detailsIran plans to build additional LWRs, but no plans disclosed


When the IAEA Rings Bells ?IAEA inspects Fordow and Natanz every one or two weeks

Uranium stocks ( natural, 3-5 % and 20 %) in Isfahan are inspected less frequently; monthlyIAEA cannot provide assurances that all facilities and nuclear materials in Iran have been submitted to safeguardsIAEA does not have knowledge how much “yellow cake” has been produced in Iran, and where these materials are IAEA does not have knowledge about the number of centrifuges produced


Add Time to Uranium ClockAction at known locationsShip all 20 % uranium outConvert all 20 % uranium to oxide form

Convert all 3-5 % uranium to oxide form (cannot be done in next 3 months)Ship all 3-5 % and 20 % outAllow a limited enrichment capability, 3000 IR-1 or 3000 SWUTime gained2 months

> 1 month

> 2 months

6 months

> 1 month depending how much 3-5 % and 20 % UF6 stocks left


More Leash to the IAEAFrom the beginning of the interim agreementIran to declare all the centrifuge rotors manufactured and their current location

IAEA allowed to monitor rotors and their manufacturingAll nuclear material (UF6, oxides) in Natanz, Fordow, and Isfahan under IAEA remote monitoringIran to declared and allow the IAEA to monitor yellow cake


The Heavy Water Reactor ProgramThe IR-40 reactor will be commissioned in 2014.Ill suited for isotope production though claimed to replace Tehran Research Reactor.

Will be able to produce plutonium enough for one nuclear device/year.Plutonium available earliest in 2016/17, but requires a reprocessing plant to be built.


Add Time to Plutonium ClockSuspend the construction of the IR-40Suspend production of fuel for the IR-40

Place the key components and materials of IR-40 under the IAEA monitoring (heavy water, fuel loading machine, pumps of the primary circuit)


The Stakes Are highIt is not only about Iran, but the credibility of the nonproliferation regime and the authority of the UN Security Council are being testedWhen looking at the past experiences a comprehensive initial declaration is essential for the success of the interim agreement

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