Can the “Esfahan FMP”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1982/more-about-irans-fmp make fuel for the Russian-made Bushehr light-water reactor, in the “unlikely”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1926/skepsis “event”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1959/dept-of-media-criticism that Russia were to cease supplying fresh fuel?
Deep in the “comments at ACW”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/2225/irans-equinox-fmp-comes-online#comment, Harvard’s Matt Bunn says no:
bq. It’s highly unlikely that the Iranian statement that the plant can make fuel for Bushehr is correct. Making fuel for any particular reactor design requires knowledge of a bunch of fuel design details specific to that reactor design, which is typically proprietary. Iranian experts have told me that they originally expected Russia to license the fuel manufacturing technology to them for the VVER-1000 design at Bushehr, but Russia has refused to do so (preferring to keep the leash on Iran’s fuel supply in its own hands). Iran could potentially design and make unlicensed fuel for the reactor, but this could raise serious safety issues, and would certainly void any guarantees from Russia that Iran may have received regarding the safety and performance of the reactor. My guess is that they will be stuck relying on Russian fuel for years to come — which, of course, makes the argument that they need Natanz to ensure reliability of fuel supply very weak.
Somebody should tell Deputy AEOI chief Mohammed Saeedi, who in “recent televised comments”:http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8801231309, appeared to be saying that Iran could supply its own fuel for Bushehr. As if dreaming up some other purpose for indigenous LWR fuel, he also threw in this creative idea:
bq. He further pointed out that Iran could mull over plans to export nuclear fuel, saying that the move is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) rules and regulations.
I say go for it. Any number of Western governments stand ready to buy at a premium!
Update: Tongue out of cheek for just a moment, Iranian nuclear exports are forbidden by “UNSCR 1737”:http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/unsc_res1737-2006.pdf (2006). See numbered paragraph 7 at the top of page 4. This is probably why Saeedi pointedly refers to the NPT; lately, Iranian officials have decided that the NPT is valid and legitimate, but the decisions of the Security Council are not. Good to know, right?
And if you were wondering about that indigenous reactor, it’s still out there on the horizon somewhere:
Elsewhere, Saeedi announced that Tehran has successfully completed the preliminary designing of a 360-megawatt light-water reactor in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn.
“Now we are in the conceptual planning of the reactor and preparing the specified site for Darkhoveyn (nuclear plant),” the Iranian official underlined.
But that’s a mere detail. Don’t let that stop you from making LWR fuel as soon as possible, AEOI. The completed assemblies will be a hit on the 4th annual National Nuclear Technology Day.