Fuel Manufacturing Plant
A 5 May 2003 letter from Iran informed the IAEA for the first time of its plan to commence construction in 2003 of a Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) at Esfahan. The stated purpose of the FMP was fabrication of fuel assemblies for the IR-40 and for the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
During a technical visit to Iran by the Agency on 10-13 July 2003, a presentation by Iranian authorities informed the IAEA that the IR-40 facility was based on indigenous design, and that it was currently in the detailed design phase and would be built in the Khondab area near Arak. The core fuel assemblies would be made from natural UO2 and supplied by FMP, the feed for which would be supplied by UCF, both under construction at the time at Esfahan. The IAEA was informed that the construction of FMP would begin in 2003 and was expected to be completed in 2006, and that operations were planned to start in 2007. Iran provided updated design information on the IR-40 on 26 July 2003, and preliminary design information on FMP in 2003.
On 1 November 2003, Iran submitted preliminary design information for FMP stating that the plant capacity would be 30 tons UO2 per year. According to updated preliminary design information that provided by Iran to the IAEA in 2004, the facility was planned to produce 40 tons per year of UO2 fuel (with a maximum enrichment of 5 percent) for research and power reactors. On 31 August 2004, Iran submitted updated design information which reflected an increase in plant capacity, declared to have been to accommodate the fuel needs for the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) (about 25 tons UO2 per year) and the 40 MW pressurized heavy water research reactor (IR-40) (about 10 tons UO2 per year).
On 8 July 2006, a design information verification (DIV) was carried out by the IAEA at the FMP at Esfahan. Iran informed the inspectors that full commissioning of the FMP was scheduled for 2007. The civil engineering construction of the facility was approximately 80 percent completed and equipment was being installed. The IEAE had previously recieved word from Iranian authorities by February 2007 that the scheduled full commissioning might have been delayed.
On 10 May 2008, the IAEA conducted a DIV at the FMP. Although the pellet production process for the heavy water reactor fuel was almost complete and some test pellets had been produced, the fuel rod production and fuel assembling processes were still missing some essential equipment.
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