Iran may enrich uranium for military reasons

Azerbaijan, Baku, November 11 / Trend, D. Hatynoglu /

Concerns in IAEA report on Iranian nuclear program are quite substantiated. Of course, official Iran has political motives related to the nuclear activity, Adil Garibov, Director of the Radiation Issues Institute of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) and Azerbaijan's former envoy to IAEA International Nuclear Information System (INIS) told Trend on Friday.

In his new report on Iranian nuclear program, IAEA Secretary General Yuka Amano releases information of details of Project N111.

As noted in the report released on November 8, Project N111 reads that Iran manufactures details of nuclear arms, tests nuclear weapons and warheads delivery by missiles, and contains information of other issues. It is now for the first time the IAEA speaks of the existence of sufficient "proofs" indicative of Iran's efforts to create nuclear weapons.

If Iran wants to create nuclear weapons secretly for military purposes, it unlikely will succeed as there is no sufficient number of nuclear arms specialists in Iran so it can move forward proceeding from Russian scientists' experience, Garibov said.

"The purpose of Iran's moving forward is unknown but it will not be able to deceive IAEA experts. The aim of even most insignificant act can not be hidden from the IAEA; nevertheless, there is no transparency in Iran's activity," the Azerbaijani nuclear scientist believes.

The UN Security Council earlier adopted four sanctions and six resolutions against Iran to make the country stop activity over "delicate" parts of its nuclear program, particularly, stop uranium enrichment process.

The latest resolution - N1929 - was adopted in June 2010. The European Union and the United States imposed strict sanctions against Iran.

Iran claims it continues to develop its nuclear program in line with IAEA requirements and for peace purposes. Currently, there are two atomic reactors in operation in Iran. Fuel produced from 3.5 percent enriched uranium and from 19.75 percent enriched uranium is used at the Busher nuclear power plant and at Tehran-based Amirabad nuclear power reactor, respectively. Construction of the Busher nuclear power plant was initiated by Germany before the Islamic revolution, in the 1970s and then stopped half incomplete. In 1995, Russia started working to sophisticate the power plant. Today, the plant has become operational, and Russia took the commitment to supply it with a 10-year fuel reserve.

Tehran-based 5-megawatt Amirabad laboratory was built by the US in 1976. In 1983, Argentina's experts, having changed the reactor and the kind of fuel, reloaded 23 kilos of uranium fuel into the reactor. The Amirabad reactor, capable of working for 35 years, will see its fuel ended in the near 2 years.

Iran has been holding discussions with the West over the issue of fuel supply to the Amirabad reactor since 2009. As the sides have failed to reach accord, Iran began enriching the obtained 3.5 percent uranium gas UF6 and led it up to 19.75 percent. Today, Iran possesses 70 kilograms of 19.75 percent uranium gas. The gas must be converted into uranium fuel on special technology to be eventually loaded into the reactor.

Garibov says Iran may enrich uranium up to the desirable percent but is unable to make it fuel. "Technically, only France can do it," he said.

As for uranium enrichment, it is necessary to note that uranium has two isotopes: 235 and 239. As uranium gets enriched, the density of isotope 235 raises. Uranium enrichment up to 20 percent means that isotope 235 density in a certain quantity of uranium gas is 20 percent.

As viewed by the Azeri scholar, Iran's actions are not in line with peace purposes so Iran must act more transparently.

"Iran has said it has created the Fordu uranium enrichment center having 3,600 centrifuges.

Such number of centrifuges is not sufficient for the supply of 30-40 tons of fuel to a power plant in industrial scale. Thus, the Fordu center pursues a different goal," Garibov said.

Power plant's being supplied with fuel and uranium industrial-scale enrichment require simultaneous operation of 54,000 centrifuges.

The capacity of Iran-based Natanz uranium enrichment plant is 54,000 centrifuges; however, only 8,500 centrifuges are installed here, of which just about a half is in operation.

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