Nuclear Sites

Kalaye Electric Company (also known as Kala Electric)

According to IAEA reports based on interviews with Iranian officials, Kalaye Electric Company, located in Tehran, was Iran’s primary centrifuge research and development site in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until Iran moved operations to the Natanz site in 2002.  Iran operated this site in secret in violation of Iran’s commitments under its safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  In 2003, it revealed the true nature of the site only after the site was exposed publicly, and Iran was subjected to intense international pressure.

Based on Iran’s revised declaration about this site, originally, Kalaye Electric was a private company that was bought by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).  The name “Kalaye Electric” means “electric goods,” implying that Iran kept the original name to help disguise the true purpose of the facility.

Iran declared that Kalaye Electric became the primary IR-1 centrifuge development and testing site after such work was moved in 1995 from the Tehran Nuclear Research Center.  The IAEA has reported that between 1997 and 2002, Iran assembled and tested IR-1 centrifuges at Kalaye.  Iran used 1.9 kg of imported, undeclared Chinese uranium hexafluoride to test centrifuge machines at the Kalaye Electric Company workshop between 1999 and 2002, before dismantling the centrifuge test facility at the end of 2002.

Public investigations of the site began after the publication of information about secret Iranian enrichment activities.  The first organization to name the facility publicly was the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which did so in early 2003.

Following the public revelation of Kalaye Electric, media reports indicated that U.S. satellite imagery showed considerable activity, suggesting that equipment was removed from the site and raising suspicions that Iran was attempting to hide activities before granting access to the IAEA.  The IAEA asked to visit Kalaye Electric in February 2003 and to take environmental samples to determine if any enriched uranium was produced at the site. Iran responded that the facility was a watch factory, but that it also made a few centrifuge components. It initially denied the inspectors’ requests to take environmental samples, claiming that it did not have to allow access until Iran implemented the Additional Protocol.

Under intense international pressure, Iran subsequently relented and allowed the IAEA limited access in March 2003 and full access in May, but it refused to permit environmental sampling until August 2003. Iran took extraordinary steps to disguise the past use and purpose of this facility, including removing equipment and reconstructing the interior of the main building.  Nonetheless, the IAEA was able to detect enriched uranium at another building at this site, further pressuring Iran to declare fully its activities there and elsewhere.

Since moving many centrifuge research and development activities to the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, Kalaye Electric has remained an important centrifuge research and development site. 

For more information check: Related Reports

site imagery

Date: Sep 15, 2008
Photo Type: Ground
Date: Jan 30, 2005
Photo Type: Satellite