IAEA Report on Implementation of Nuclear Safeguards Agreement in Iran - Part 2

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This is the second part of an official International Atomic Energy Agency report, published June 1, 2004, which documents the agency's investigation of nuclear sites, substances and projects inside Iran. This covers pages 11 to 21 of the report.

The document was found without copyright notice on the website of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy at http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/iran/iaea0604.pdf .

For more information on this document please refer to IAEA Report on the Implementation of the Nuclear Safeguards Agreement in Iran - Part 1.

Some of the highlights from part 2:

  • ¶15. "On the basis of the information available to it, the Agency has concluded that the amount of plutonium declared by Iran had been understated. However, the amounts produced were only in the milligram range. The Agency also concluded that the analytical results indicated sources of plutonium other than that identified in the solution bottles, specifically: some of the plutonium has a plutonium-240 (Pu-240) abundance different from that found in the plutonium solution bottles; the age of the plutonium in the solution bottles appears to be less than the declared 12–16 years; analyses revealed the possible presence of slightly irradiated natural uranium; and the presence of milligram quantities of plutonium appears to be inconsistent with the relatively large amounts of unexplained separated americium-241 (Am-241) found in the glove box. These findings were discussed with Iran."
  • ¶17-18: There is also the interesting story of the Polonium-210 production, which can be used with beryllium to make neutron initiators in nuclear weapons.
  • ¶21-27 detail the annoyance of the IAEA at the mysterious fate of 1.7 kg of uranium hexafluoride, the raw material of gas centrifuge nuclear processing.

Note: I am not sure if this kind of thing is what we are looking for. Also it warned me that this is 40k long, which might foul some browsers. What to do?? --HongPong

This is IAEA Document GOV/2004/34, pages 11-21.


International Atomic Energy Agency
Board of Governors

GOV/2004/34
Date: 1 June 2004
Restricted Distribution
Original: English
For official use only

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran Report by the Director General

Contents

VERIFICATION ACTIVITIES

A. Uranium Conversion

The Uranium Conversion Facility

1. Since the issuance of the Director General’s report in March 2004, the Agency has been able to carry out a complete design information verification (DIV) at UCF. In the course of this activity in April 2004, Iran informed the Agency that the UF6 production line of UCF would be ready for hot testing within a few weeks.

2. As indicated in the Director General’s previous report (GOV/2004/11, para. 14), based on a preliminary examination of the UCF drawings and technical reports, Agency experts on conversion had reached a preliminary conclusion that it appeared that UCF was being built essentially on the basis of those drawings and reports, as had previously been declared by Iran. However, as also indicated in GOV/2004/11, further comparison of the documents with the as-built components of UCF was necessary to confirm this conclusion.

3. Between 24 April and 5 May 2004, during the visit by the Agency’s conversion experts, the Agency carried out a detailed review of a selection of the documents said to have been provided in the early 1990s to Iran by a foreign supplier. The purpose of this review was to further assess the validity of Iran’s statement that the UCF plant had been built essentially on the basis of that documentation, and not on the basis of pilot scale testing. The Agency was able to compare directly what was found in the documents with the actual installation and operations.

4. Based on its examination of the documents and the installed units, the Agency experts concluded that the documents were the technical basis for the design of the UCF, with two exceptions: the uranium ore concentrate (UOC) purification process and the uranium metal production process.

5. The basis for the change to the purification process from mixer settlers to pulse columns was clarified during discussions with engineering staff and through the examination of small scale test equipment at TNRC. As described by Iranian officials, initial tests had been carried out using glass column equipment followed later by the use of a small metal column system. According to these officials, following these tests, a full scale pulse column was constructed and cold tested at TNRC. It was stated that this pulse column is now installed in UCF. As regards the uranium metal production process, the Agency experts have noted that the process described in the foreign documents was technically and mechanically complex and more difficult than the process that Iran had successfully tested at TNRC. In light of this, the experts considered as credible Iran’s explanation that it had therefore opted to use its own techniques at UCF.

6. On 15 March 2004, Iran informed the Agency that hot tests of the UOC purification process at UCF had been started that day. This process involves the conversion of UOC into ammonium uranyl tricarbonate (AUTC) through purification and precipitation. On 29 March 2004, the Agency was informed by Iran that operational tests of the conversion of the AUTC first into UO2 and then into UF4 would begin within the next few days. The final product of that process is UF4 suitable for fluorination to UF6. In a letter dated 29 April 2004, Iran informed the Agency that, following the successful hot tests mentioned above, hot tests of the UF6 production line would begin on 6 May 2004.

7. On 1 May 2004, Iran confirmed to the Agency its intention to carry out the hot tests and stated that Iran considered such activities to be tests, and not as production of UF6. On 7 May 2004, the Agency wrote to Iran, informing it that, given the amounts of nuclear material involved (which, with the current inventory of UF4, would be in the order of 100 kg), the hot testing of UCF with UF6 gas would technically amount to the production of feed material for enrichment processes (see also paragraphs 60–61 below on suspension). As of 21 May 2004, Iran had not yet started the UF6 production hot tests.

8. The Agency has verified the inventory of uranium ore concentrate at UCF, the quantities of UF4 and intermediate uranium compounds, and the waste that had been produced since the commissioning of the UOC to UF4 conversion line. The Agency is currently assessing the results of its verification.

9. Iran has agreed to follow the Agency’s revised policy for natural uranium conversion plants, which will permit more effective safeguards implementation at such facilities. A.2.B.1.

Experiments and testing

10. During the April/May 2004 mission of the Agency uranium conversion experts, additional discussions were held on Iran’s conversion experiments and tests, as previously described by Iran (see GOV/2004/11, para. 16), with a view to confirming Iran’s declaration concerning these activities. The Agency considers that contemporaneous records of experiments (e.g. log books and note books) would help corroborate Iran’s statements regarding the amounts of nuclear material that were produced and sent for disposal as waste.

11. The operator of JHL completed the characterization and declaration of all nuclear material at JHL so that the flow chart on nuclear material involved in the conversion experiments could be completed. All inventory change reports were corrected and have been submitted to the Agency. Apart from the impurities analysis, which is still under evaluation, the results of the Agency verification agree with the activity levels and quantities of nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency.

12. At JHL, Agency inspectors also discussed in greater detail with the Iranian authorities Iran’s production of uranium metal for its AVLIS experiments. The Agency was able to take samples from the uranium metal, the analysis results of which are pending.

B. Irradiation and Reprocessing Experiments

Plutonium separation

13. As described in the Director General’s report to the March 2004 meeting of the Board (GOV/2004, para. 21), Iran had irradiated depleted UO2 targets and reprocessed some of them in shielded glove boxes. According to Iran, 7 kg of UO2 were irradiated, 3 kg of which were subsequently reprocessed for the separation of plutonium, and the remaining 4 kg buried in containers on the site of TNRC. Iran estimated that the original amount of plutonium in the solution was approximately 200 µg. Based on Agency calculations the amount of plutonium should have been higher.

14. As indicated in the previous report, the glove boxes and equipment, as well as the separated plutonium, were presented to the Agency for sample taking in November and December 2003. Since the last report, the analytical results have become available, and Iran provided the Agency with additional information on the experiments along with detailed records of the successful experiments.

15. On the basis of the information available to it, the Agency has concluded that the amount of plutonium declared by Iran had been understated. However, the amounts produced were only in the milligram range. The Agency also concluded that the analytical results indicated sources of plutonium other than that identified in the solution bottles, specifically: some of the plutonium has a plutonium-240 (Pu-240) abundance different from that found in the plutonium solution bottles; the age of the plutonium in the solution bottles appears to be less than the declared 12–16 years; analyses revealed the possible presence of slightly irradiated natural uranium; and the presence of milligram quantities of plutonium appears to be inconsistent with the relatively large amounts of unexplained separated americium-241 (Am-241) found in the glove box. These findings were discussed with Iran.

16. The Iranian officials acknowledged that their theoretical estimations of the produced plutonium had been low. However, they maintained that the 200 µg of declared separated plutonium was the actual amount successfully separated, and that the extremely low yield was due to very low separation efficiency. The Iranian officials provided corrected data sheets on the irradiation and reprocessing experiments that addressed the presence of one of the plutonium sources. As regards the age of the plutonium, the Iranian officials reiterated their statement that the experiments had been completed in 1993, and agreed to repeat the analysis of the plutonium solution samples in an attempt to obtain more precise results. They also suggested that the slightly irradiated natural uranium may be present due to I-131 production experiments (declared to the Agency in 2003) in which such material had been used. Finally, in response to the Agency’s observations, the Iranian officials described work that had been carried out in the glove box involving separated Am-241, which explains the existence of Am-241 in the glove box.

Polonium-21