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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tehran Nuclear Research Center

JIHRD acts as a back up complex in the field of Research and Development in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, production of 99Mo , 131I and 133Xe radioisotope, in addition to providing a wide range of laboratory services for Nuclear Fuel Production Division at AEOI. This complex provides the best and the most up to date equipments and capabilities not only in AEOI but also in all Research Centers of Iran. The main facilities in this research laboratories are as follows: Nuclear Spectrometry Laboratories which consist of Gamma-Ray Spectrometry System, Alpha-Particle Spectrometry, Liquid Scintillation Counting Spectrometr, Neutron Activation Analysis facilities, and Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. Instrumental Analysis Laboratories consist of UV, IR, XRF, ICP, Atomic Absorption, Thermal Analyses, GC and GLC. Health Physics Section.

Since 1968, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center [located in suburban Amirabad] has included a research reactor with a nominal capacity of 5 megawatts provided by the United States under IAEA safeguards. The reactor core was due to be upgraded and replaced with Argentine assistance in the late 1980s. Construction of an installation for producing radioisotopes is complete, and there are unconfirmed reports that this facility can produce plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. The Center also includes an installation for producing "yellow cake," which has not operated recently due to unsatisfactory technical condition. The Ebn-e Qasem laser technology research laboratory entered service in October 1992, although the laboratory has no lasers suitable for separating uranium isotopes.

In the report Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Report by the Director General International Atomic Energy Agency [06 Jun 2003], the Director General identified a number of corrective actions by Iran which were necessary to enable the Agency to verify the previously unreported nuclear material declared to have been imported by Iran in 1991. These actions included the submission of updated design information for the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility and for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) to reflect activities involving the imported nuclear material.

Iran acknowledged the receipt in 1991 of natural uranium, which had not been reported previously to the Agency, in the form of UF6 (1000 kg), UF4 (400 kg) and UO2 (400 kg), which was now being stored at the previously undeclared Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories (JHL) located at the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC). Iran also informed the Agency that it had converted most of the UF4 into uranium metal in 2000 at JHL. This information was subsequently confirmed by Iran in a separate letter to the Agency dated 26 February 2003.

At the Ibn-e Heysam Laser Technology Center, the subsidiary organization of TNRC, uranium Laser enrichment and the inertial-confinement fusion are studied. A component of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) contracted with Iran to provide equipment clearly intended for Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS). The laser equipment was to have been delivered in late 2000 but continues to be held up as a result of US protests. AVLIS technology could provide Iran the means to produce weapons quantities of highly enriched uranium. As a result of US protests, the Russian Government has halted the delivery of some of this equipment to Iran.

In a letter dated 19 August 2003, Iran further acknowledged that it had carried out UF4 conversion experiments on a laboratory scale during the 1990s at the Radiochemistry Laboratories of TNRC using imported depleted UO2 which had previously been declared as having been lost during processing (process loss). This activity was acknowledged by Iran only after the Agency's July 2003 waste analysis results indicated the presence of depleted UF4.

Between 14 and 18 September 2003, the IAEA conducted a safeguards inspection at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and at the PFEP in Natanz. The inspection activities at TRR included physical inventory verification and design information verification, as well as a number of activities to follow up on issues related to the natural uranium imported in 1991, including further examination of the cylinders from which imported UF6 gas was said to have leaked.

During discussions which took place in Iran from 2 to 3 October 2003, in response to Agency questioning, the Iranian authorities acknowledged that Iran had imported and installed at TNRC laser related equipment from two countries: in 1992, a laser spectroscopy laboratory intended for the study of laser induced fusion, optogalvanic phenomena and photoionization spectroscopy; and in 2000, a large vacuum vessel, now stored at Karaj, for use in spectroscopic studies.

In a letter to the Agency dated 9 October 2003 from Mr. E. Khalilipour, Vice President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Iran provided information that had not been provided earlier on research activities carried out on uranium conversion processes, including acknowledgement of laboratory and bench scale experiments. Specifically, Iran confirmed that, between 1981 and 1993, it had carried out at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Centre (ENTC) bench scale preparation of UO2 and, at the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC), bench scale preparation of ammonium uranyl carbonate (AUC), UO3, UF4 and UF6.

On 9 October 2003, Iran further acknowledged that, contrary to its previous statements, practically all of the materials important to uranium conversion had been produced in laboratory and bench scale experiments (in kilogram quantities) between 1981 and 1993 without having been reported to the Agency. These activities were carried out at TNRC and ENTC.

Between 13 and 22 October 2003, an Agency inspection team conducted safeguards inspections at PFEP and other facilities in Esfahan and Tehran. These inspections included follow up activities related to the HEU and LEU particles found at the Kalaye Electric Company and at Natanz and to the newly acknowledged existence of nuclear material resulting from uranium conversion experiments.

In its letter of 21 October 2003, Iran acknowledged the irradiation of depleted UO2 targets at TRR and subsequent plutonium separation experiments in a hot cell in the Nuclear Safety Building of TNRC. Neither the activities nor the separated plutonium had been reported previously to the Agency.

In the meetings held 27 October-1 November 2003, Iran provided additional information about these experiments. According to Iranian officials, the experiments took place between 1988 and 1992, and involved pressed or sintered UO2 pellets prepared at ENTC using depleted uranium that had been exempted from safeguards in 1978. The capsules containing the pellets had been irradiated in TRR in connection with a project to produce fission product isotopes of molybdenum, iodine and xenon. The plutonium separation was carried out at TNRC in three shielded glove boxes, which, according to Iran, were dismantled in 1992 and later stored in a warehouse at ENTC along with related equipment. Iran stated that these experiments had been carried out to learn about the nuclear fuel cycle, and to gain experience in reprocessing chemistry.

According to Iran, a total of about 7 kg of UO2 was irradiated, 3 kg of which was processed to separate plutonium. The small amount of separated plutonium was stored in a laboratory of Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories (JHL), while the remaining 4 kg of unprocessed irradiated UO2 targets was placed in containers and stored at the TNRC site, and the wastes disposed of at the Qom salt marsh.

On 1 November 2003, Iran agreed to submit all nuclear material accountancy reports, and design information for ENTC and JHL, covering these activities. On that date, Iran also presented the separated plutonium and the irradiated unprocessed targets to Agency inspectors at JHL. Verification of the material, as well as of possible nuclear material hold up in the dismantled glove boxes, is foreseen to take place during the 8-15 November 2003 inspection.

The IAEA Report of 10 November 2003 found that Iran had:

  • Failed to report the production of UO2 targets at ENTC and their irradiation in TRR, the subsequent processing of those targets, including the separation of plutonium, the production and transfer of resulting waste, and the storage of unprocessed irradiated targets at TNRC.
  • Failed to provide design information for the laser laboratories at TNRC and Lashkar Ab'ad, and locations where resulting wastes were processed and stored, including the waste storage facility at Karaj.
  • Failed to provide design information for the facilities at ENTC and TNRC involved in the production of UO2, UO3, UF4, UF6 and AUC.
  • Failed to provide design information for TRR, with respect to the irradiation of uranium targets, and the hot cell facility where the plutonium separation took place, as well as the waste handling facility at TNRC.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:42:58 ZULU