Iran's nuclear reserves – claims & doubts: Trend News commentator
Head of the Trend Persian Desk Dalga Khatinoglu
The readiness demonstrated by Iran to supply the nuclear power plant which is under construction in Armenia's Armavir city with nuclear fuel once again raises the question concerning the Islamic Republic's nuclear potential. On Sunday the governor of the Iranian West Azerbaijan province Rahim Gurbani said that Iran is ready to export nuclear fuel to neighboring countries and other countries, "Tehran Times" reported.
Perhaps, such a statement is purely propaganda. During a visit to Kazakhstan in early July, the Israeli President Shimon Peres asked his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev not to sell nuclear fuel to Iran. Nazarbayev assured the guests that his country, which has 15 percent of the world's uranium fuel, has not sold and will not sell it to Iran.
During the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's visit to the Latin American countries last week, the talks also focused on the issue of Iran's nuclear fuel supply.
In response, Iran in every possible way tries to prove that the country has enough nuclear capability and is not dependent on other nations.
Earlier in 2008, the British Foreign Ministry instructed its diplomats in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil to seek a guarantee of officials above the states, that they will not provide Iran with nuclear fuel. According to the last year's reports of "London Times", Iran's nuclear reserves are on the verge of exhaustion. The Press Secretary of the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a rebuttal of these statements.
There are two uranium mines in Iran. Experts believe the reserves in the Sagand mines in the Yazd and Gachin citird at in the Abbas port are not enough to ensure even the smallest nuclear power station within ten years. The uranium reserves in the Sagand mine are at 350 meters of depth, and its production is a too complicated procedure. These mines can produce a maximum of 1,400 tons of uranium. In addition, Uranium fuel produced in Iran costs much higher than its value on world markets.
Iran buys 110 tons of fuel from Russia per year for the Bushehr plant which does not yet function. Official Moscow guaranteed a ten-year provision of the plant with fuel. The IAEA's 2008 report states that 70 percent of "Yellow Cake", imported to Iran from South Africa in 1970, was used to produce UF6 (uranium dioxide).
Besides Bushehr, six nuclear power plants will be put into exploitation by 2020, official Tehran said. A total of 200 tons of "Yellow Cake" per year is necessary to supply the Bushehr plant whose capacity is 1,000 MW with fuel. If Iran launches the Ardakan uranium mines, it can produce only 71 tons of the enriched uranium (3.5 percent). In this regard, the possibility of Iran's providing neighboring countries with nuclear fuel causes doubts.
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