Esfahan Uranium Conversion Facility converted uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride

The Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Esfahan contains process lines to convert yellowcake into uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride. It began operations in June 2006.
According to information provided to the IAEA, Iran carried out most of its experiments in uranium conversion between 1981 and 1993 at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) and at other facilities at Esfahan. In 1991, Iran contracted to purchase a turn-key, industrial scale conversion facility from China. This contract was eventually canceled as a result of U.S. pressure, but Iran retained the design information and built the plant on its own. Construction of the UCF began in the late 1990s.

Iran declared that it began construction of the UCF without building and testing a pilot scale plant. After extensive analysis, the IAEA accepted this declaration.

Following the 2004 suspension agreement between Iran and the European Union, Iran stopped conversion activities at the plant in November 2004. In August 2005, Iran announced that it planned to resume conversion activities, and the IAEA heightened surveillance accordingly.

The UCF consists of several conversion lines, mainly the line for the conversion of yellowcake to UF6. The annual production capacity of the UCF is 200 tonnes of uranium in the form of UF6. ISIS believes the UCF’s enrichment plateaued at this level in 2008. The UF6 is made for the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. The UCF is also able to convert yellowcake, LEU, and depleted uranium into uranium oxide and depleted uranium metal. Suspicions remain that the line to produce 19.75 percent uranium metal was originally intended to produce HEU metal for nuclear weapons.

Fuel Manufacturing Plant:

In 2003, Iran declared to the IAEA that it was also working on a fuel manufacturing plant at Esfahan to produce finished fuel elements for the Arak heavy water reactor. Construction started in 2004, and the site was inaugurated in April 2009. It principally manufactures fuel pellets for the (yet-incomplete) IR-40 reactor.

Fuel Fabrication Laboratory (FFL)

In 1985, Iran began operating a Fuel Fabrication Laboratory (FFL) at Esfahan that it commissioned from a foreign supplier. Iran informed the IAEA of the FFL in 1993 and provided design information in 1998. It is still in operation. According to the IAEA, the FFL is suitable for producing small amounts of fuel pellets.

Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP)

On May 2, 2012, Iran informed the IAEA that it planned to combine conversion of 19.75 percent uranium hexafluoride to U3O8 and the manufacture of fuel plates of this material into one facility, though these processes were previously carried out in other facilities.13

Tunnel complex

A total of three tunnel entrances exist at this location. The tunneling facility was first discovered in December 2004. The tunnels were created in violation of IAEA safeguards.

Uranium Chemistry Laboratory (UCL)

In the early 1980s, Iran commissioned from a foreign supplier the construction of a Uranium Chemistry Laboratory (UCL). In 1998, according to the IAEA, Iran declared that UCL had been closed down since 1987.

Zirconium Production Plant (ZPP)

Iran has built a Zirconium Production Plant (ZPP), which, when completed, will be able to produce 10 tonnes of zirconium tubing per year for nuclear fuel cladding. Construction started in 2004. The ZPP, according to Iranian officials, will be able to produce zirconium sponge, zirconium alloy strip and bar, magnesium, hafnium, 99.99 percent pure magnesium, zirconium alloys, titanium and titanium alloys, and can do ferrous and non-ferrous metal casting. Its operational status is unclear.

Additional Information

On a 2009 IAEA visit, inspectors discovered 30 tonnes of heavy water in an area of the lab that inspectors visited infrequently. The IAEA believes that this heavy water was imported, not produced at the Arak heavy water facility.

Source » isisnucleariran

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