SearchIranian Nuclear Energy Program History - Iranian Nuclear Energy Program

Iranian Nuclear Energy Program History - Iranian Nuclear Energy Program...
nuclearenergy.ir 19/11/2013 Economy

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Iran’s nuclear energy program was launched back in the 1950s, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – an ally of the West - was in power. Western states jumpstarted Iran’s atomic ambitions, agreeing to build over a dozen nuclear power reactors among other initiatives. This cooperation continued until 1979, when the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic of Iran was established. As the West abandoned their involvement in Iran’s nuclear energy program, Tehran first turned towards alternative suppliers of atomic technology, and then emphasized self-sufficiency. This section provides a chronological review of key events in Iran’s progress toward mastering this science.
Pre-Revolution Endeavors

Iran’s efforts to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program date back to the 1950s, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was in power. Iran, then an ally of the West, heavily relied on assistance from the United States to gain access to nuclear technology. In 1957, Tehran and Washington first reached an agreement on cooperation in research on the peaceful uses of atomic energy under the American “Atoms for Peace” program.

A decade later, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) became fully operational with US assistance. The site was equipped with a 5-megawatt research reactor fueled by weapons-grade uranium, all of which was supplied by the United States.

A year later, Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the NPT. The Iranian parliament ratified it in 1970, subjecting the country’s nuclear energy program to the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

ATOMS FOR PEACE

In 1973, a study carried out by the Stanford Research Institute in the United States projected that Iran would need nuclear energy. It recommended the construction of atomic power plants capable of generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity before 1994.

Soon afterwards, Iran set the goal of producing some 23,000 megawatts of electrical power from a series of nuclear power plants over the next two decades. The aim was to generate needed electricity from nuclear power as opposed to oil, thereby freeing up crude output for export and refinement. To this end, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) was established in 1974, and mandated with implementing the aims of the Iranian nuclear energy program. Between fiscal years 1975 and 1976, the AEOI’s budget was expanded from $30.8 million to more than $1 billion.



Beyond the US, Iran also turned to other Western states for the development of its nuclear energy program.

Cooperation with France was expansive. In 1974, Tehran issued a $1 billion loan to the French Atomic Energy Commission for the construction of the multinational uranium enrichment plant Eurodif. Tehran secured a ten percent equity stake in the enterprise, entitling it to ten percent of the plant’s output. In 1977, a $2 billion agreement on the construction of two 950-megawatt reactors in Darkhovin was finalized with the French firms Framatome, Spie-Batignolles and Alsthom Atlantic. Talks were also held on the purchase of an additional six reactors from France.

West Germany was also heavily involved in Iran’s nuclear energy program. In 1975, Siemens/Kraftwerk Union agreed to build a nuclear power plant near the southern Iranian city of Bushehr under a deal worth $4 to $6 billion.

The construction of two 1,294-megawatt reactors at the site, which began in the autumn of 1975, was to be completed by 1981.

In 1977, a “qualified letter of intent” was also signed with Siemens/Kraftwerk Union for the construction of an additional four reactors in two power stations. Two 1,290-megawatt units were to be built in Esfahan while another two 1,290-megawatt units were to be constructed in northwestern Iran.

Iran engaged in nuclear cooperation with Canada and Austria as well. A nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with Ottawa to facilitate the training and research activities of Iranian scientists. Moreover, Tehran and Vienna agreed to cooperate in the field of nuclear waste storage.

Beyond reactors, Iran was particularly interested in uranium enrichment. As outlined above, it lent money to France in exchange for guaranteed imports of enriched uranium. In the mid-1970s, it also signed a letter of agreement with a number of British firms to purchase a large amount of natural uranium. These companies later agreed to convert natural uranium to UF6, the feedstock for centrifuges used for the enrichment of uranium. Moreover, in 1975, Iran reportedly signed an agreement with South Africa for the supply of $700 million worth of yellowcake.

Iran additionally signed a contract with the Iranian firm UrIran to oversee the exploration of potential uranium deposits. The exploration was to cover a span of some 600,000 square kilometers, or over a third of Iran’s surface area.

From 1976-1978, UrIran signed contracts with the firms Prakla Seismoss, Austirex and CGG. These West German, French and Australian companies were to survey and locate uranium deposits in the country as soon as possible. Aerial surveys were conducted in central Iran as well as in the country’s northwest, west, northeast and east.
04Iran also sought reprocessing capabilities. In 1976, then US President Gerald Ford signed National Security Decision Memorandum 324.
The directive offered Tehran the opportunity to buy and operate an American-built multinational reprocessing facility on its soil. The site was designed to extract plutonium from nuclear fuel, enabling the presence of a full nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. Ford’s directive further outlined assistance with the formulation of a plan to build 23 nuclear power reactors in Iran under a multi-billion dollar deal.

As a 1978 US State Department memo put it: “We have been encouraged by Iran’s efforts to broaden its non-oil energy base. We are hopeful that the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement will be finalized soon and that American companies will be able to play a role in Iran’s nuclear energy program.

In sum, when Iran was under the rule of the American-allied Shah, nuclear cooperation was initiated with the United States, France, West Germany, Britain, Austria, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Moreover, agreements were struck with Western firms for the construction of a total of fourteen nuclear power reactors.
Post-Revolution Endeavors
Suspension of Nuclear Energy Program
07 Soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the development of the country’s nuclear energy program ground to a halt. Siemens/Kraftwerk Union stopped work in Bushehr under US pressure. One of the nascent reactors was 50 percent complete while the other was 85 percent complete.

Meanwhile, the United States cut off its supply of weapons-grade uranium as fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). This forced the closure of the American-supplied facility for a number of years.

France also changed its attitude towards nuclear energy in Iran. Eurodif suddenly refused to supply enriched uranium, even though Iran was a joint owner of the facility with a right to a share of its output. Framatome additionally cancelled its contract to build two reactors in Darkhovin.

The foreign firms involved in the exploration of uranium deposits in Iran left as well. Out of 150 Iranian and foreign personnel involved in the project, only 16 remained. However, as the foreign contractors had almost completed their work, they eventually handed over their data to the AEOI.


Resumption of Nuclear Energy Program

In 1981, a year after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, Tehran decided to resume its efforts to develop nuclear energy. It sought to benefit from local expertise and manpower to build nuclear reactors and develop the technology required to master the full nuclear fuel cycle.

The IAEA was informed about Iran’s intentions in 1983 and offered it assistance in chemical aspects of reactor fuel fabrication, chemical engineering and design aspects of pilot plants for uranium conversion, corrosion of nuclear materials, LWR fuel fabrication, and pilot plant development for production of nuclear grade uranium oxide (UO2). However, the US government intervened to stop the IAEA’s assistance in Iranian production of UO2, in addition to UF6 — the feedstock for gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Left without Western assistance, Iran turned to the Chinese. In 1984, Iran opened a nuclear research center in Esfahan with China’s assistance.

The two countries further signed a nuclear cooperation protocol in 1985.
Meanwhile, the Iranian nuclear energy program came under physical attack. The first Iraqi strike on the unfinished Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant was carried out in March 1984. Iraq bombed the site again in February and March 1985. In 1986, Iraq attacked the plant for the fourth time. Moreover, in November 1987, the Bushehr complex was bombed for the fifth and sixth times. Iran notified the IAEA of the attacks, objecting to Iraq’s use of French-made missiles and inaction by the international community.

In 1988, the AEOI paid Argentina’s Applied Research Institute (INVAP) $5.5 million to alter the Tehran Research Reactor so it could run on uranium enriched to slightly less than 20 percent U-235, just below the cutoff point for highly enriched uranium (HEU). The reactor had originally been designed to run on weapons-grade uranium, which was provided by the United States prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

After the end of its eight-year war with Iraq, Iran also intensified its cooperation with China and reached out to Russia for cooperation in the nuclear field.

In 1990, Iran signed a nuclear cooperation protocol with China and decided to build a total of 10 nuclear units by 2005, in an attempt to generate 20 percent of the country’s total energy consumption.

In February of the same year, Iran launched the Jabr Ibn Hayan laboratory in Tehran; and in March, the country opened the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center.

One year later, in 1991, Iran purchased a cyclotron accelerator from the Belgian company Ion Beam Applications. The cyclotron was to be used in the Karaj Agricultural and Medical Research Center, west of the capital Tehran. The facility became operational in 1995.
10 Eurodif enrichment plantThe following year, Iran and France agreed that Tehran remain a shareholder of Eurodif via Sofidif—a Franco-Iranian consortium holding a 25 percent share of Eurodif. Thus, Iran kept its ten percent stake in Eurodif, though indirectly. Moreover, after a lengthy court battle, the French agreed to repay the $1.18 billion borrowed from Iran plus interest. Following the agreement, Iran maintained its insistence on its right to a share of Eurodif’s output of enriched uranium. The demand was, however, rejected. Iran viewed the refusal as further proof of the unreliability of outside nuclear suppliers, and cited the Eurodif experience as the basis for achieving energy independence by independently developing all of the elements of the nuclear fuel cycle.

In November 1991, then IAEA Director General Hans Blix said he had “no cause for concern” in relation to Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear technology. He also said the IAEA may start implementing special inspections in Iran as a possible test case.

In 1992, following Western allegations against Iran’s nuclear energy program, Tehran invited IAEA inspectors to the country and permitted them to visit all requested sites and facilities. Meanwhile, US pressure led Argentina to cancel the sale to Iran of civilian nuclear equipment worth $18 million.

In March 1992, German intelligence claimed that Tehran had received three nuclear warheads and medium-range nuclear delivery systems which had gone missing in Kazakhstan. However, three months later, a Kazakh official said the three missing nuclear weapons were found in Semipalatinsk.

In August 1992, a landmark agreement was signed in Moscow for the construction of a two-unit nuclear power plant in Iran.

In 1993, Argentina eventually delivered the uranium fuel Iran needed for the Tehran Nuclear Research Center. And in June the same year, Iran produced an x-ray tube using cobolt-57, designed to detect uranium. Moreover, nuclear cooperation with China was stepped up. The Chinese provided Iran with an HT-6B Tokamak fusion reactor, which was installed at the Plasma Physics Research Center affiliated with the Islamic Azad University. Towards the end of the year, Tehran also signed an agreement with Beijing to build two 300-megawatt reactors in Darkhovin, similar to the reactors in Qinshan in China and Chashma in Pakistan.

Between October and November 1993, IAEA inspectors visited three nuclear research centers in Tehran, Esfahan and Karaj. They reported that they had “found no evidence inconsistent with Iran’s declaration that all its nuclear activities are peaceful.”

In November 1993, Italian customs said it seized eight steam condensers for nuclear reactors bound for Iran. In January the following year, Italian officials also said that they had seized ultrasound equipment used for reactor testing which was bound for Iran.

In 1994, Russia’s Minatom agreed with the AEOI to complete unit 1 of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant with a VVER-1000 unit, mostly using the infrastructure already in place. The formal contract to resume work on the partially completed Bushehr plant was signed one year later.

In March 1995, Germany said “plants placed at the disposal of Iran are not capable of producing atomic weapons.”

In June, then Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani announced the completion of the first phase of a nuclear research center in Bonab in East Azarbaijan Province. One month later, Blix said that IAEA inspectors have not detected any evidence of a military program in Iran’s nuclear facilities. And in October, China signed a deal with Iran to provide it with uranium processing technology. However, stepped up American pressure soon afterwards led Beijing to abandon the project to build reactors in Darkhovin. Furthermore, a year later, China also pulled out of the contract to construct a uranium conversion plant in Iran.

In March 1996, Spain and Iran negotiated a $1.5 billion deal that included nuclear cooperation. In September the same year, Iran signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with reservations that the accord “fails to be within the framework of a comprehensive nuclear disarmament treaty.”

In June 1997, Iran announced that the first phase of its $33 million electron accelerator in the central city of Yazd has started operating.

In February 1998, China backed away from the deal to sell Iran anhydrous hydrogen fluoride destined for the Esfahan Nuclear Research Center.

In March 2000, then US President Bill Clinton signed the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, which authorizes the White House to take punitive action against individuals or organizations known to be providing material aid to alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in Iran. The legislation additionally reduced US funding to Russian space agencies responsible for the joint U.S.-Russian space station project, absent a determination that Moscow shows “a sustained commitment to seek out and prevent” aid to Iran’s alleged weapons programs.

In September 2001, Russia agreed with the United States to freeze a deal for the supply of laser technology to Iran.

Iran established the Nuclear Science & Technology Research Institute (NSTRI) in 2002 to take over the AEOI’s research role.
12 AghazadehAt the 46th IAEA General Conference in September 2002, then AEOI president Golamreza Aqazadeh declared: “Iran is embarking on a long-term plan, based on the merits of an energy mix, to construct nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 6,000 MW within two decades. Naturally, such a sizeable project entails all-out planning in various fields of nuclear technology such as the fuel cycle, safety and waste management well in advance. I take this opportunity to invite all the technologically advanced member States to participate in my country’s ambitious plan for the construction of nuclear power plants and the associated technologies such as fuel cycle, safety and waste management techniques.”

In December 2002, the US accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iranian officials categorically rejected the claim.

In an interview the same year, Iranian official Hamid Reza Assefi said “I can categorically tell you that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program… Any facility we have … if it is dealing with nuclear technology, is in line with the peaceful nature of our nuclear program.”


Uranium Enrichment Activities

Uranium ore needs to be mined and processed before being enriched. In order to achieve this goal, then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami declared on February 9th 2003 that his government intended to extract uranium from a mine in Saghand, in the central province of Yazd. The site consisted of two deposits, with a combined reserve of 1,580,000 tons of uranium ore and an average grade of 553 g/ton.

On the same day, Khatami invited IAEA inspectors to visit all Iranian nuclear facilities, including Natanz which the US had continuously expressed concerns about.

Later in the month, Iranian authorities announced that they had produced yellowcake at a milling plant near the city of Yazd. The plant was expected to yield up to 70 tons of yellowcake per year.

Once mined and concentrated into yellowcake, the uranium must be converted to a gas. This gaseous form of uranium, called uranium hexafluoride (UF6), serves as the feedstock for centrifuges.

In May 2003, then AEOI president Golamreza Aqazadeh said a uranium conversion facility located at the Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center would be used to convert yellowcake into UF6.

Iran’s conversion plant was designed to feature a number of process lines for the transformation of uranium compounds as well as production of uranium dioxide (UO2), uranium metal and UF6.

According to the IAEA, the planned process lines included steps for converting uranium ore concentrate into UF6; converting low enriched UF6 into UO2; converting depleted UF6 into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4); converting low enriched UF6 into low enriched uranium metal; and converting depleted UF4 into depleted uranium metal.


Gas Centrifuges & Isotopic Separation


13 Natanz
After uranium is mined and converted into a gaseous form, the U-235 isotope must be separated from the more abundant U-238 isotope in a process called enrichment. But because these two uranium isotopes are chemically identical, they cannot be readily separated by a simple chemical reaction. They must be parted by means of exploiting the slight difference in their weights.

Iran has utilized two means to enrich uranium: gas centrifuges and laser isotopic separation.

The centrifuge program was launched in 1985 at facilities in Tehran monitored by the IAEA. In 1997, Iran moved its centrifuge development effort to the Kalaye Electric Company in Tehran. Between 1997 and 2002, Kalaye was used to test and assemble centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

In 2002, Iran moved its centrifuge enrichment program to Natanz, a site designed to house centrifuges used for enrichment of uranium for use in fuel for nuclear power plants.

In addition to its P-1 centrifuges, Iran has a program to develop the more advanced P-2 model. Mechanical testing of P-2 rotors began in 2002.

In February 2003, IAEA inspectors were allowed to visit the Natanz site.

In October, Iran announced that it had used 1.9 kg of UF6 to test centrifuges at Kalaye, achieving an enrichment level of 1.2 percent U-235. In the same year, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the site and take environmental samples.

By the end of 2007, Iran had commenced feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into the approximately 3,000 centrifuges it had installed at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP). All were of the P-1 variety. The number of these centrifuges rose to almost 5,000 in late 2008 and to over 9,000 in February 2012.

By February 2012, Iran was using an experimental cascade of 328 centrifuges at Natanz to produce 19.75 percent-enriched uranium hexafluoride. Iran is also producing this material at a new plant at Fordow, where around 700 centrifuges were installed by late January 2012.

Additionally, Iran has pursued two types of laser enrichment technology: Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS) and Molecular Laser Isotope Separation (MLIS).

In order to pursue its laser enrichment program , Iran signed a total of four contracts with foreign suppliers from 1975 to 1998. It imported and installed laser-related equipment at the TNRC from two countries. In 1992, a laser spectroscopy laboratory intended for the study of laser induced fusion, optogalvanic phenomena and photoionization spectroscopy was purchased. In 2000, a large vacuum vessel, now stored at Karaj, was imported for use in spectroscopic studies.


Negotiations with the EU3 (2003-2006)
16 iran eu3 newIn February 2003, Iran agreed to modify its Subsidiary Arrangements (Code 3.1) with the IAEA. The modified arrangement required Iran to report planned nuclear facilities when a decision on construction is made, rather than 180 days before the facility is scheduled to receive nuclear material.

In May 2003, Iran offered the United States an opportunity to engage in comprehensive negotiations. Among other things, Tehran offered to provide full transparency over its nuclear energy program, withdraw material support for Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, help turn Hezbollah into merely a political organization, and pledge to adopt the Arab Peace Initiative. In return, Iran asked for security assurances from the US, relief from all sanctions and a normalization of diplomatic relations. However, the Iranian offer was dismissed by the George W. Bush administration.

Three European countries – France, Germany and the UK – referred to as the EU3, undertook a diplomatic initiative with Iran in June 2003 to resolve questions about Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

The EU3 and Iran struck a series of agreements between 2003 and 2005. They involved Iran’s suspension of enrichment on a temporary and voluntary basis in exchange for promises of the normalization of Iran’s nuclear file and recognition of Iran’s right to enrichment.

In July 2003, after several visits by the IAEA’s inspection team, then Director General of the IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials. Both sides agreed to further discuss the Iranian nuclear energy program and relevant technical issues later in July and in August 2003.

In the same year, Iran informed the Agency about a nuclear waste storage site, Anarak, located near the central city of Yazd. In August 2003, the Agency visited the site and requested that this waste be moved to a facility at the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories in Tehran. Iran consented and transferred the waste in January 2004. The Agency was also informed about another waste storage facility, the Karaj Radioactive Waste Storage Facility.

In October 2003, the Iranian government and EU3 Foreign Ministers issued a statement, known as the Tehran Declaration, in which Iran voluntarily agreed to temporarily suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Iran also agreed to sign an Additional Protocol to the NPT as a voluntary and confidence-building measure. In exchange, the EU3 agreed to recognize “the right of Iran to enjoy the peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the NPT” and promised long-term cooperation in various fields.



In February 2004, Iran and the EU3 signed another agreement in the Belgian capital. The deal was dubbed the Brussels Agreement, based on which Iran was asked to agree to suspend its uranium enrichment activities as defined by the IAEA. In return, the EU3 made a commitment to work actively to normalize relations between Iran and the IAEA. The Europeans also pledged to do their best to close Iran’s nuclear file in the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in June 2004. The Iranian nuclear file’s status was not normalized at the meeting.

In November 2004, the two sides signed the Paris Agreement, providing objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear energy program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. It also provided guarantees on nuclear, technological and economic cooperation as well as commitments on security issues.

In the same year, the AEOI set up the Nuclear Power Production & Development Company of Iran (NPPD) as a body responsible for the planning, construction, commissioning, decommissioning and safety of nuclear power plants in Iran.

The construction of the Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor also began. The project, which is designed to produce 40MW thermal of power and use natural uranium oxide fuel, is scheduled to become operational in early 2014. The construction of Esfahan’s Fuel Manufacturing Plant began in 2004 as well.

Between November 2004 and July 2005, Iran presented four proposals to the EU3, but the Europeans turned a blind eye to them and tried to permanently end Iran’s enrichment-related activities instead.

In February 2006, Tehran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol in response to the adoption of a resolution by IAEA Board of Governors referring Iran to the UN Security Council.


Negotiations with the P5+1 (2006-Present)

After the EU3 and Iran failed to reach an agreement, China, Russia and the United States joined the group in June 2006. The new format became known as the P5+1 as it consists of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. It has been negotiating with Tehran ever since.

In 2006, the same year that negotiations between Tehran and the P5+1 began, Iran officially launched the Esfahan Uranium Conversion Facility, UCF, with an annual production capacity of 200 tons of uranium in the form of UF6.

In April 2006, then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had enriched uranium using 164 centrifuges at the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP). The move marked the end of Iran’s temporary and voluntary suspension of enrichment-related activities.

Almost six months after negotiations commenced, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737, imposing its first round of sanctions against Iran in December 2006.

In March 2007, Iran announced that it had ceased the implementation of the Subsidiary Arrangements to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement (modified Code 3.1) in protest at the UN sanctions. It also argued that the move followed the Iranian parliament’s refusal to ratify the measure.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine AshtonTwo months later, Iran declared that it had installed more than 1,300 centrifuges that were being fed with UF6. In the same month, the UN Security Council adopted another resolution against Tehran—Resolution 1747. The resolution reaffirmed that Iran must take steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors, notably a suspension of its uranium enrichment activities.

A third round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran was imposed in March 2008, when the body adopted Resolution 1803. In the same year, Iran entered the design stage for the construction of a domestically built pressurized water reactor with a capacity of 360MW in Darkhovin. In September 2009, Iran provided the IAEA with preliminary design information about the plant.

Also in 2009, Iran launched the Esfahan Fuel Manufacturing Plant, the construction of which had begun in 2004. The facility was designed to produce nuclear fuel assemblies with a maximum enrichment of 5 percent u-235 for nuclear power and research reactors.

Moreover, as Iran was running out of fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor, it submitted a request to the IAEA for the purchase of fuel plates containing 19.75 percent enriched uranium. The P5+1 came up with a proposal to swap some 70 percent (1200 kilograms) of Iran’s stockpile of UF6 enriched up to 5 percent in exchange for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. The catch was that Iran would only receive the fuel plates up to a year after the export of the lion’s share of its UF6 stockpile. Considering its previous experiences with foreign suppliers reneging on their commitments, Iran requested that the swap be immediate or at the very least in stages which would not force it to export most of its UF6 in a single batch. The Iranian request was rejected.

Despite the repeated rounds of sanctions, Iran continued to pursue its enrichment activities. In 2010, the Iranian government ordered the AEOI to commence enriching uranium up to 19.75 percent for usage at the Tehran Research Reactor. This decision was made as Iran was left unable to purchase fuel for the site. In the same year, Iran started injecting fuel into the core of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant—the country’s first industrial-scale nuclear power reactor.

In May 2010, Iran, Brazil and Turkey signed a joint declaration in Tehran to exchange much of Iran’s low-enriched uranium for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. The accord’s main points were in effect identical to the failed 2009 swap proposal. Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of LEU to Turkey for a later exchange of 120kg of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. But the declaration was immediately rejected by the US. Washington’s dismissal of the agreement came despite US President Barack Obama’s encouragement of his Turkish and Brazilian counterparts to pursue a fuel swap. In a letter to his Brazilian counterpart, Obama had stated that Iran’s agreement to export 1,200kg of LEU “would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s LEU stockpile.”

In June the same year, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1929, intensifying sanctions against Iran once more.

In 2011, the AEOI confirmed that Iran had produced 19.75 percent LEU for its Tehran Research Reactor.

Operations at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant finally began in May 2011, and on February 11th 2012, it was connected to the national grid at 40% capacity, generating 700 megawatts of electricity.

In the same year, Iran inaugurated another facility at Fordow, 20 km north of Qom. The facility is a centrifuge enrichment plant designed to produce up to 19.75 percent-enriched UF6. The Shahid Masoud Alimohammadi Enrichment Plant, also known as the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), is designed to house as many as 2976 centrifuges. According to the IAEA’s latest report, Iran has installed a total of 2,710 centrifuges at the site. In November 2012, four IR-1 cascades were in operation at the plant.

Moreover, the IAEA announced in a 2013 report that Iran had installed 15,416 IR-1 and 1,008 more advanced IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP).

Since Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s President in June 2013, the Iranian government has announced that it will take a new approach in regards to negotiations with the P5+1. President Rouhani has emphasized that his efforts are aimed at imminently resolving the nuclear dispute. The new Iranian government has emphasized that it will not give up the country’s legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Hasan Rouhani
President Rouhani has appointed Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator.

Zarif and his team held a new round of talks on October 15-16, 2013 in Geneva, offering a fresh proposal to the P5+1.

The negotiations were held behind closed doors and the content of the Iranian proposal is declared as “confidential” until the conclusion of talks.

The two sides are set to continue negotiations in Geneva on November 7-8 as they believe significant progress was made in the latest round of negotiations.
---Iran’s efforts to gain access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes go back to the 1950s.---
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