Uncle Sam’s Memo to Yellowcake Producers

Barak Ravid has a scoop in _Ha’aretz_, but the “lede is buried”:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1102057.html.

[The story now appears in more sensible form “here”:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1102021.html.]

Here’s the good stuff:

bq.. The U.S. has asked 10 uranium-rich countries to tighten their monitoring of sales of the mineral to Iran, according to a document obtained by Haaretz. The move is based on an American estimate that Iran’s uranium reserves will run out by 2010….

The document was distributed by the U.S. State Department to 10 countries that produce yellowcake, a uranium concentrate used as a raw material for enriching uranium. The United States wants the countries to increase monitoring of the sale of yellowcake to Iran.

According to the document, “As a consequence of its geology, Iran’s reported indigenous uranium reserves are insufficient to support its current nuclear reactor program for sustained period of time …. Calculations based on Iran’s rate of uranium conversion thus far suggest that Iran will run out of yellowcake in 2010.”

The document is defined as a so-called non-paper to be used in contacts with privately owned companies that produce the concentrate. It was sent to Russia, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Britain, Kazakhstan and three others countries.

UN sanctions prohibit the sale of uranium to Iran, but the United States fears that the Islamic Republic might be trying to acquire the material anyway. “Iran could soon begin, or may have already begun, to look for outside suppliers of uranium,” the document says. “Extreme vigilance in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program is necessary given the requirements of the UN Security Council and the significant threat Iran presents to international peace and security.”

The document also notes that given “Iran’s publicly stated ambition to pursue its enrichment-related activities, we believe it critically important that the world’s major uranium resource companies prevent all exports of uranium to Iran unless contained in fuel rods and for an established light-water reactor.

Beyond the responsibility to prevent nuclear proliferation that we all share and the specific requirements of the UNSC, we believe that nuclear cooperation – particularly the provision of raw nuclear materials – with Iran is a significant business and reputational risk.”

It adds that “we urge companies subject to your jurisdiction not to facilitate Iran’s nuclear ambitions by engaging in new business deals with Iran until all concerns regarding its intentions have been resolved and confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program has been established.”

p. More on this later, maybe — I have to go back to getting other stuff done.

2 thoughts on “Uncle Sam’s Memo to Yellowcake Producers

  1. Magpie

    Badly off topic, but don’t you think “yellowcake” sounds delicious? Some part of my brain is convinced it’s some kind of sweet buttery pastry, dense and rich, that you can dig out of the ground.


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