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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Darkhovin, also variously referred to as Darkhoyen, Darkhoein, Ahvaz, Darkhouin, Esteghlal, and Karun, is located on the Karun River south of the city of Ahvaz. A facility at the location was reportedly under the control of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (ICRG), and was said to be suspected of being an underground nuclear weapons facility of unspecified nature. The most detailed and apparently least reliable reports of Iran's weapons programs were from the People's Mujahideen, a group listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, including the claim that China provided uranium enrichment equipment and technicians for the facility.

In 1974, Iran signed a contract with the French company Framatome for two 950 MW pressurized water reactors (PWRs) to be built at a site called Karun. Although site preparations had begun, construction was canceled by Iran following the Islamic revolution in 1979.

In 1993, Iran contracted with China to build two 300 MWe Qinshan PWRs, under a project called Esteghlal ("Independence"). The project was originally planned to achieve operational status by 2005. China reportedly conducted seismic surveys at the site, and received initial payments for the construction work. Subsequently the United States persuaded China to cancel the reactor agreement, which remained in abeyance due to Iran's inability to pay for continued work. However, China announced on 27 September 1995 that it intended to cancel construction of the reactors. There was no small confusion in the literature concerning the location of this project, which some sources asserted (evidently incorrectly) was to be located at "Esteghlal" near Bushehr.

On 10 December 2005 the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency Organization (IAEA), Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, announced the start of construction of a 360mw nuclear power plant using domestic-made fuel in southwestern Khuzestan province. "All components of the power plant will be constructed in Darkhoein city in Khuzestan province by Iranian experts who are highly qualified... Materialization of the plant will count on the experience gained by the Islamic Republic from the construction of a 40mw research reactor in (the central city of) Arak," he said. He said construction of the power plant had the approval of the cabinet, adding that funds for the purpose had been appropriated and released. In 2007 Iranian authorities suggested it would be the first entirely domestic reactor project, and that they expected it to become operational in 9 years.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:41:42 ZULU