Notwithstanding an “earlier report”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1931/irans-equinox-fuel-manufacturing-plant-comes-online that the event would take place by the New Year, Iranian “news”:http://isna.ir/Isna/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1314002&Lang=E “media”:http://www5.irna.ir/En/View/FullStory/?NewsId=424858&IdLanguage=3 now report that the Fuel Manufacturing Plant at Isfahan will be ceremonially inaugurated tomorrow, National Nuclear Technology Day.
The FMP is already partly operational, making natural uranium pellets for fuel assemblies, destined for the Arak reactor. So call it the “Festival of Unenriched Fuel”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover.
Kuwait’s news service also “reports”:http://www.kuna.net.kw/NewsAgenciesPublicSite/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=1988859&Language=en that “the production of a new generation of centrifuges” will be announced, presumably at Natanz. Does this mean that the “carbon-fiber”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1923/rimz-of-mass-destruction models exhibited last year at PFEP are now in production? We’ll see.
So what’s the point?
As in the past two years, the anniversary provides an occasion for President Ahmadinejad — now entering the homestretch of his re-election campaign — “to drape himself in the colors of nuclear patriotism”:http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8801190931. One can only hope for the traditional “open-source”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1851/iran-centrifuge-components “intel”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1870/more-on-the-ahmadinejad-visit-to-natanz “bonanza”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1901/ir2-and-ir3-scoops.
_Update: I missed this, the true “intel bonanza”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1849/ir-2s-on-display link._
Speaking of traditional nuclear holidays, the 11th “Yom-e Takbeer”:http://pkpolitics.com/2008/05/28/discuss-youm-e-takbeer-10th-nuclear-anniversary/, or Pakistani Day of Greatness, is coming up in a month or so. It commemorates the nuclear tests of 1998. Perhaps greatness is not “what comes to mind”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/magazine/05zardari-t.html, but symbols are funny that way: they lack substance.
(Hey, FCNL, why aren’t these dates on the “calendar”:http://www.fcnl.org/NuclearCalendar/?)
Coincidentally, representatives of the 5+1 group — the permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany — will be “meeting tomorrow”:http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/08/burns_to_p51 in London. Before deciding to come out with any premature announcements, here’s another date they might ponder: Iran’s “election day”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_presidential_election,_2009, June 12. With the recalcitrant incumbent boasting that Iran’s “nuclear case is closed”:http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8801191061, this might not be the best moment to supply him with election propaganda. Timing is everything…
I think it’s not so relevant but I quote a piece of news on ISNA:
“ TEHRAN, Iran’s two newly build centrifuges both belong to one generation designed after IR-2 and IR-3 centrifuges, an official said Saturday.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Thursday on the occasion of the 4th national day of nuclear technology that the country has tested two types of new high-capacity centrifuges.
The Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said that the centrifuges were 5 to 6 times faster than the older ones. He gave no further details.
He also said around 7000 centrifuges have been installed in Natanz facilities.
Iran has managed to build a new generation of centrifuges more advanced than IR-2 and IR-3 in two types and with different functions, the official who required anonymity told ISNA.
Also another official at Isfahan nuclear site told ISNA that a number of the newly tested centrifuges have been activated in Natanz.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is predicted to have a report in this regard.”