Iran denies violation of NPT commitments

10 November 2014

UPDATED - This article has been updated to reflect IAEA corrections to uranium inventory figures (1:00 pm 14 November)

Iran has rejected the charge it has violated one of the commitments it made in the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) it agreed at a meeting with P5+1 leaders in Geneva last year.

The P5+1 is a group of six world powers which in 2006 joined diplomatic efforts with Iran with regard to its nuclear program. The term refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the USA, Russia, China, the UK and France, plus Germany.

Citing an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report issued on 7 November, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) – a Washington DC-base think tank - claimed Iran had violated the JPA by intermittently feeding natural uranium gas into the IR-5 centrifuge at one of its research facilities - the Natanz Fuel Enrichment complex.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, refuted this claim, arguing that "Iran can repeatedly inject gas not only into one machine (centrifuge) but also into a cascade and continue its R&D activities." Kamalvandi comments were published by the Tehran-based Fars news agency.

But ISIS said that, according to the JPA, Iran had committed itself to not making any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment plant. ISIS said this meant Iran would not feed UF6 into centrifuges that were installed but which were not enriching uranium. The IR-5 had not previously been used for enrichment, ISIS said.

IAEA report

The IAEA said that, "contrary to the relevant resolutions" of its Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities referred to in its report. "However, since 20 January, Iran has not produced UF6 enriched above 5% U-235 and all of its stock of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 has been further processed through downblending or conversion," the Vienna-based agency said.

All of the enrichment related activities at Iran's declared facilities are under IAEA safeguards, and all of the nuclear material, installed cascades and feed and withdrawal stations at those facilities are subject to IAEA containment and surveillance. Iran has 18 declared facilities and nine 'location outside facilities' – or LOFs.

The IAEA said that since its director general Yukiya Amano's previous report, Iran had been intermittently feeding natural UF6 into the IR-5 centrifuge and the IR-6s centrifuge as single machines and into IR-1, IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6 centrifuges, sometimes into single machines and sometimes into cascades of various sizes. The agency confirmed that a prototype IR-8 centrifuge "remains in place but without connections".

Between 19 August and 10 October, a total of about 166.2 kg of natural UF6 was fed into centrifuges in the R&D area, but no low enriched uranium was withdrawn as the product and tails were recombined at the end of the process, the IAEA said. Between 20 January and 20 July, Iran downblended 108.4 kg of its inventory of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235.

Since the JPA took effect, Iran has not enriched UF6 above 5% U-235 at any of its declared facilities and all of its stock of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 has been further processed through downblending or conversion into uranium oxide, the IAEA said.

Enrichment of UF6 up to 5% U-235 has continued at a rate of production similar to that indicated in Amano's previous reports. The amount of such nuclear material that remains in the form of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235 - 12,397.3 kg - has increased by 525.3 kg to 8290.3 kg. The rest has been further processed.

Up to the point at which it stopped producing UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235, Iran also produced 447.8 kg of such nuclear material, all of which has been further processed through downblending or conversion into uranium oxide.

The IAEA also found that Iran had failed to account for its past nuclear research activities, including possible military dimensions of that research.

"The agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," it said.

Iran and the IAEA held technical meetings in Tehran on 7 October and 2 November in relation to the implementation of two practical measures agreed in May – the initiation of high explosives and to neutron transport calculations. They agreed that another technical meeting to further discuss these measures would take place as soon as possible, but not before 24 November.

Signed on 24 November 2013, the JPA - also known as the Geneva interim agreement - consists of a short-term freeze of parts of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a reduction in economic sanctions as the P5+1 countries work towards a long-term agreement. The aim of these talks is to reach a solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News