UN Inspectors to Visit Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

By:  Warren Mass
UN Inspectors to Visit Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced on November 28 that Iran has invited his agency to visit the heavy water plant in the central city of Arak. Heavy water is commonly used in plutonium production.

Amano’s announcement came oly four days after Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia reached a nuclear deal with Iran, following several days of negotiations that took place in Geneva. The agreement was reached less than three months after Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani promised, in an interview with NBC News, to makes major changes in Iran’s relationship with other nations.

An AFP report quoted a statement to reporters made by Reza Najafi, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency: “We expect that either at the end of December or the beginning of January we should start implementing the measures agreed by both sides.”

The transcript of a White House conference call with members of the media was released on November 24, summarizing the administration’s assessment of the agreement reached with Iran. The release noted:

First of all, Iran has committed to halt all enrichment above 5 percent and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5 percent.  Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium, and this is, of course, what has been of principal concern to us in terms of their stockpile.  It will dilute below 5 percent, or convert to a form that is not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near 20-percent enriched uranium before the conclusion of this six-month phase.

Additionally, noted the release, Iran will also not install additional centrifuges of any type and will not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium, and will not construct additional enrichment facilities.

Iran also promises to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5 percent-enriched uranium stockpile over the next six months, in addition to neutralizing the stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium. 

And, finally, noted the report, Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at the Arak heavy water plant and will not construct a facility capable of reprocessing spent fuel, preventing it from separating plutonium from spent fuel.  

Low-enriched uranium, suitable for powering nuclear reactors, is generally enriched to a level of 3-4 percent U-235. Highly enriched uranium has a greater than 20 percent concentration of U-235; however, the fissile uranium used in nuclear weapons usually contains 85 percent or more of U-235.

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Photo of Yukiya Amano: AP Images

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