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Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP)

Last Modified: Oct. 10, 2013
Other Name: Kashan
Location: Natanz Enrichment Plant
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
Size: Industrial scale; 50,000 centrifuge capacity
Facility Status: Partially operational

The Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) is an underground uranium centrifuge enrichment plant, and the primary facility in Iran's centrifuge program. Construction started in the early 2000s, and the plant has been partially operating since February 2007. The exile group the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed the existence of the facility to the public in 2002, and the IAEA first visited the complex in 2003. [1] According to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), the facility "consists of three large underground buildings, two of which are designed to be cascade halls to hold 50,000 centrifuges." [2]

According to some estimates, when fully operational the plant would be able to produce 500kg of weapons grade uranium annually. [3] However, Iran has not enriched uranium at the FEP to levels higher than 5%, nor has it concluded the construction and installation of centrifuges in both of the production halls.

The installation of additional centrifuges is ongoing. As of August 2013, Iran had fully installed 89 IR-1 cascades, feeding 53 IR-1 cascades with natural UF6. Iran has partially installed one additional IR-1 cascade and completed preparatory installation work for another 46 cascades, for a total of 15,416 IR-1 centrifuges. [4] In its August 2012 report the IAEA noted that, "not all of the centrifuges in the cascades being fed with UF6 may have been working" at the time of reporting. [5] This qualification was not included in the Agency's November 2012 and subsequent reports. Since enrichment began at the FEP in 2007, Iran has produced approximately 9,704kg of LEU with a maximum enrichment level of 5%. [6] According to the August 2013 IAEA report, 6 IR-2m centrifuge cascades had been fully installed and preparatory installation work on 12 IR-2 cascades had been completed. [7]

Between February 2010 and May 2013, Iran fed an estimated 1,353.7 kg of UF6 enriched to 5% at the FEP into cascades in the production area of the above-ground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), also located at the Natanz complex, for further enrichment up to 20% U-235. [8] Iran produced approximately 335.7 kg of UF6 enriched up to 5% at the PFEP between 16 September 2012 and 16 August 2013. [9] Due to the potential military applications of uranium enrichment, the IAEA closely monitors activities at the facility.

Sources:
[1] Yonah Alexander and Milton M. Hoenig, The New Iranian Leadership (London: Praeger Security International, 2008), p. 119.
[2] "Nuclear Sites, Facilities, Natanz," Institute for Science and International Security, www.isisnucleariran.org.
[3] Anthony H. Cordesman and Adam C. Seitz, Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Birth of a Regional Arms Race (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2009), p. 217.
[4] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, August 2013, www.iaea.org.
[5] "International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, August 2013, www.iaea.org.
[6] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, August 2013, www.iaea.org.
[7] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, August 2013, www.iaea.org.
[8] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 22 May 2013, www.iaea.org.
[9] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 19 August 2013, www.iaea.org.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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