Rudan Nuclear Research Center
Prior to enrichment, uranium yellowcake must be transformed into uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6), which is the feedstock for the centrifuge enrichment process. Reportedly the Iranian "hex" plant was known as the Rudan Nuclear Research Center, located near the town of Fasa near Shiraz in Fars Province. China was thought to have potentially built the plant as part of a secret nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 1991. Other reports suggested that this facility might be located at the Nuclear Technology Center in Esfahan. Indications of the existence of this facility, wherever it might have been located, included Russian press reports of a shipment of uranium hexafluoride gas from China to Iran in late 1994, as well as purchases of hydrogen fluoride from Germany and attempts to buy fluorification equipment from Britain.
In 2000 Iran declared the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Esfahan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iranian authorities claimed the UCF at Esfahan was the only facility doing uranium conversion work. The last list of delcared Iranian nuclear facilities, published in 2004, did not include any additional uranium conversion facilities. IAEA reports as of July 2008 had not mentioned a facility near Fasa or referred to as Rudan.
In mid-2001 Israel's Eros A1 imaging spacecraft photographed what its operators believed to be the construction site for a facility that could be used to store large missiles. Fasa had not previously been associated with missile-related activities. The image taken by the spacecraft showed excavation works for large underground bunkers. The roads on the site formed two hexagons and below these the start of what might have been intended as an octagon. Between the hexagons and the main road were around 20 buildings, some of which were contained in a small pentagonal-shaped area.
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