Iran removes centrifuges from enrichment plants

19 November 2015

Iran has removed numerous centrifuges and related infrastructure from its uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow since adopting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in October, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) latest safeguards report.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's restricted report to the IAEA Board of Governors, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, has been made public by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

The JCPOA, an international agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic santions, was signed in July by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA - also referred to as the P5+1 - plus the European Union). Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years. Iran began the removal of centrifuges and related infrastructure from the enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, under IAEA verification and monitoring, following the adoption of the JCPOA on 18 October.

According to an ISIS analysis of the IAEA report, a total of 4,112 IR-1 centrifuges and related infrastructure have been removed from Hall A at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant since 18 October, at a rate of about 147 per day. The same period saw the removal of 160 IR-2m centrifuges and related infrastructure from the same hall, at an average rate of six per day. The removed centrifuges and other equipment are being stored in Production Hall B at the site, under IAEA verification and monitoring.

The figures suggest a commitment to dismantle IR-1 centrifuges first, ISIS says. At such a removal rate, it estimates that Iran would need another one and a half months to finish dismantling the number of IR-1 centrifuges at the Natanz plant required under the JCPOA.

In the same period, a total of 258 IR-1 centrifuges and related infrastructure were removed from the Fordow plant, at an average rate of nine per day. All currently remain in the cascade hall at the facility, the IAEA said.

Iran ceased feeding uranium into the cascades at both Natanz and Fordow in October in preparation for an annual physical inventory taking. IAEA physical inventory verification exercises to verify the inventory as declared by Iran were still ongoing at both sites as of 16 November, the IAEA report said.

The report reiterated that all of the activities set out under a "road-map" of activities agreed by the IAEA and Iran for the period to October 15 had been completed on schedule. The road-map sets out a timeline of activities to be completed in order for the IAEA to make an assessment of issues relating to the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programs. The IAEA has said it will provide its final assessment on the issue by 15 December.

ISIS calculates from the IAEA report that Iran has a total inventory of low-enriched uranium equivalent to 12,639.6 kg of 3.5% uranium hexafluoride. Of this, 8,305.6 kg is in the form of 3.5% uranium hexafluoride with the remainder in various chemical forms at the Enriched UO2 Powder Plant (EUPP), a uranium conversion plant at the Esfahan complex.

The IAEA noted that although it continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and other locations declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, it is "not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News