ISIS Iran Report

Iran seeking Uranium Ore from Kazakhstan

Iran seeking Uranium Ore from Kazakhstan photo

December 30, 2009

The AP’s George Jahn is reporting today an effort by Iran to import clandestinely 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan.  The information is contained in a brief intelligence report authored by an IAEA member state and obtained by Jahn. 

That Iran would be seeking a new source of uranium ore is not surprising, given how low its existing stocks are believed to be.  According to the November 2004 IAEA report, Iran purchased 531 t of uranium oxide (U3O8) from South Africa in the 1970s.  This is the equivalent of 448 t of uranium in the form of uranium hexafluoride.  Iran has already processed at Esfahan some 366 t of uranium in the form of UF6; its remaining stock is possibly reserved by Iran for the operation of the Arak heavy water reactor when it is complete.  This is reflected in the operation of the Esfahan conversion facility which has operated infrequently or at low levels over the last year. 

One final note:  It is important to distinguish between uranium ore, which Iran is running low on, and Iran’s stocks of converted UF6 which are plentiful and sufficient to maintain Natanz at existing rates of enrichment for decades.

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