Nuclear Power In Iran, Uranium Enrichment And Nuclear Weapons
Iran a nuclear power? Chaos and upheaval has been strewn across the global media, heading often under breaking news however the biggest story within the Middle East is about progression, moving forward, centering around the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Iran.
After the nuclear disaster of Fukushima, Japan, major countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States have made efforts to move away from relying on nuclear power. The United States of America, along with Israel have openly questioned Iran’s motives in building a nuclear power plant in Tehran, which happens to be the center of most Iranian industries, including the military.
Fox News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst, Alireza Jafarzadeh even has his own website Nuclear Revelations dedicated to uncovering Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Jafarzadeh first came on the scene on August 14th, 2002 announcing at a press conference in Washington, DC a secret kept by the Iranian regime regarding the Natanz nuclear site.
Located just 130 miles south of Tehran, accessible by main highways such as the Perisan Gulf Highway, one has to wonder what a uranium enrichment facility conveniently located just 2-3 hours away from Tehran.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that Iran is planning to speed up their enrichment of uranium, while moving the process from the vulnerable position in the desert to a more defensible site in the mountains. Also in the article, Iran Accelerates Uranium Enrichment: Danger or Bluff? The Christian Science Monitor points out that perhaps Iran is moving the program in order to shelter themselves from a potential attack from the United States or Israel.
The United States and Israel had Iranian fingers pointed towards them after a computer worm infected the systems at atomic facilities and other sites throughout the Middle Eastern Nation. Known as the Stuxnet worm, the worm may have hindered Iran’s uranium enrichment operations.
One question I came across in my research that many major media networks neglected to cover was if there is a difference between a nuclear weaponry plant and a nuclear power plant. How does one know that a nuclear power plant is being geared towards making nuclear weapons rather than producing energy and other productive outlets? I, Holly Robin, contacted both the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC) and the World Nuclear Association (WNA) on if there is a noticeable difference between a nuclear weaponry facility and a nuclear power plant, sure enough there is.
The World Nuclear Association got back to us at The BQB with some interesting information. The Director of Public Communications at the WNA wrote, “Yes, generally there is a big difference between reactors used for power and those for producing military plutonium. A reactor for producing weapons Pu must be easily able to stop and start for frequent fuel change, and the best fuel is metal (not oxide) and best moderator is heavy water. A power reactor only refuels every 12-18 months (fuel stays 24-36 months) and has oxide fuel, and usually light water moderator. There are two technologies however which readily have dual use: enrichment of uranium (to c 5% for power, to c 90% for weapons), and reprocessing to extract plutonium from used fuel (in the long-burn-up power case this isn’t much use for weapons though). If enriching uranium of course for weapons you don’t need a reactor.”
Interesting. The enrichment of uranium is mainly used for weaponry. If this is known than President Barack Obama is right, Iran’s move towards becoming a nuclear power is absolutely unacceptable. However not everyone seems to think so.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao are standing by Iran as they defend the country’s right to a becoming a peaceful nuclear power. Russia and China both emphasize that diplomatic solutions are needed to the dispute over the nuclear program in Iran as well as North Korea. Four successive rounds of UN sanctions against Iran to force them to halt their uranium enrichment as proof that their actions are purely peaceful have not worked. Medvedev and Jintao are urging Iran to stop being defensive by allowing Israel and the United States to see their intentions are just to advance as a nuclear power, not to develop nuclear weaponry.
Iran building a nuclear power plant in the heart of their industrial commerce, easily accessible by main roads and 130 miles north of their Nantong nuclear site that is responsible for the uranium enrichment needed for nuclear weaponry; something does not sound right.
After contacting the International Atomic Energy Association on the de-restricted information surrounding the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I found out some interesting things.
In section C.3. Other Enrichment Related Activities I came across this:
22. The Agency is still awaiting a substantive response from Iran to Agency requests for further information in relation to announcements made by Iran concerning the construction of ten new uranium enrichment facilities, the sites for five of which, according to Iran, have been decided, and the construction of one of which was to have begun by the end of the last Iranian year (20 March 2011) or the start of this Iranian year. To date, the Agency has no information as to whether that construction has started.
In addition I came across seven areas of concern under section G. Possible Military Dimensions, where the Board of Governors called on Iran to work with the IAEA on resolving outstanding issues concerning the Iranian nuclear programme having possible military dimensions that are not allowed.
35. Based on the Agency’s continued study of information which the Agency has acquired from many Member States and through its own efforts, the Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. Since the last report of the Director General on 25 February 2011, the Agency has received further information related to such possible undisclosed nuclear related activities, which is currently being assessed by the Agency. As previously reported by the Director General, there are indications that certain of these activities may have continued beyond 2004.40 The following points refer to examples of activities for which clarifications remain necessary in seven particular areas of concern:
• Neutron generator and associated diagnostics: experiments involving the explosive compression of uranium deuteride to produce a short burst of neutrons.
• Uranium conversion and metallurgy: producing uranium metal from fluoride compounds and its manufacture into components relevant to a nuclear device.
• High explosives manufacture and testing: developing, manufacturing and testing of explosive components suitable for the initiation of high explosives in a converging spherical geometry.
• Exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonator studies, particularly involving applications necessitating high simultaneity: possible nuclear significance of the use of EBW detonators.
• Multipoint explosive initiation and hemispherical detonation studies involving highly instrumented experiments: integrating EBW detonators in the development of a system to initiate hemispherical high explosive charges and conducting full scale experiments, work which may have benefitted from the assistance of foreign expertise.
• High voltage firing equipment and instrumentation for explosives testing over long distances and possibly underground: conducting tests to confirm that high voltage firing equipment is suitable for the reliable firing of EBW detonators over long distances.
• Missile re-entry vehicle redesign activities for a new payload assessed as being nuclear in nature: conducting design work and modelling studies involving the removal of the conventional high explosive payload from the warhead of the Shahab-3 missile and replacing it with a spherical nuclear payload.” (Via IAEA Report from Director General on Iran and Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran)
It certainly will be interesting to see if Iran gets away with starting up a nuclear facility, one that seems to be intended for nuclear weaponry design and construction rather than energy and power. Hopefully the world will come together to ensure that Iran will not use nuclear power to destroy, but instead to advance technologically.
Nuclear Power In Iran, Uranium Enrichment And Nuclear Weapons