ISIS Iran Report

Probable Steady Production Rate of 20 Percent Enriched Uranium in Iran

Probable Steady Production Rate of 20 Percent Enriched Uranium in Iran photo

October 21, 2010

On October 20, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that Iran had produced “almost” 30 kilograms (kg) of 19.75 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride.  This is up from 22 kg produced as of August 20, 2010, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) September 2010 safeguards report on Iran.  If Iran did indeed produce 30 kg of 19.75 percent enriched uranium as of October 20, 2010, this would indicate that 8 kg had been produced over the course of the last sixty days, or a production rate of about 4 kg per month.  Based on the 22 kg amount reported in the last IAEA safeguards report, Iran has maintained a relatively constant production rate of approximately 3.44 kg per month since it began enriching uranium up to this level in February 2010, and would be expected at this point to have approximately 28.88 kg of enriched material, rather than 30 kg.

It is unclear what Salehi meant by his statement that “almost” 30 kg of 19.75 percent enriched material has been produced.  This could mean that several grams below 30 kg have been produced, or Salehi may have been rounding up from 29 kg.  If the latter is the case, this would put the production rate at close to the last production rate of ~3.44 kg per month.  In advance of the September 2010 IAEA safeguards report, Salehi claimed in late August that Iran had produced 25 kg of 19.75 percent enriched uranium.  ISIS assessed at the time that Salehi may have been extrapolating or overstating the actual amount produced.  The actual production of 22 kg was later noted in the September IAEA report, indicating that Salehi was indeed either rounding-up or simply stating the limit on the amount of the material that can fit inside the canister containing the enriched material, rather than the actual amount of material inside the canister.

Since Salehi overstated the actual amount of 19.75 percent enriched uranium produced as of late August by more than 10 percent, he likely continues to overstate Iran’s production of the material.  Even one fewer kilogram produced than the total announced by Salehi would drop the production rate down close to the expected ~3.44 kg/month rate.  It is likely that Iran continues to achieve a rate of approximately 3.5 kg of 19.75 percent enriched uranium produced per month at the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, despite this recent announcement.

email us twitter Share on Facebook