Iran and UF6 – It’s Official

Iran seems to have pulled the rough diplomatic equivalent of downing eight pints and running around all over the place.

This just in:

*Iran Begins Removal of IAEA Seals at Enrichment-related Locations*

Vienna, 10 January 2006 – IAEA inspectors confirmed today that Iran started to remove IAEA seals on enrichment-related equipment and material at Natanz. Based on the information currently available, the removal of Agency seals at enrichment site of Natanz, and at two related storage and testing locations, Pars Trash and Farayand Technique, will be completed by 11 January 2006.

On 7 January 2006, Iran requested that the Agency remove, before 9 January 2006, specified seals at Natanz, Pars Trash and Farayand Technique. These seals covered P-1 centrifuge components, maraging steel, high strength aluminium and centrifuge quality control and manufacturing equipment, as well as two cylinders containing UF6 located at Natanz. The seals also covered some process equipment at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz.

According to Iran, the intended scale of the “R&D” is small and will be carried out at PFEP. Iran has also informed the Agency that it planned to install small-scale gas ultracentrifuge cascades at PFEP and that, during this “R&D”, UF6 gas would be fed into these cascades for research purposes. Iran also indicated that these activities may include the manufacturing of a limited number of new components, currently planned only for P-1 centrifuges.

The cascade hall and the UF6 feed and withdrawal stations at PFEP will continue to be covered by IAEA containment and surveillance measures….

I “noted last night”: that Iran had said it wouldn’t start producing nuclear fuel, but added that Tehran might engage in some linguistic hair-splitting.

“This is apparently the case.”: According to Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head for international affairs of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO):

bq. “We differentiate nuclear fuel production with research and access to technology. Suspension of nuclear fuel production will be continued in the country”…

Saeedi also revealed either serious ignorance or nuts of steel.

According to IRNA:

bq. Saeedi expressed hope Iran can reach a consensus with the European side on its nuclear activities within a logical framework so that all concerns can be removed.

Good luck with that. “CNN has a decent roundup”: of the international reaction. Short version: everyone’s pissed.

Strong work.

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