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Natanz Enrichment Complex

Last Modified: Sept. 24, 2013
Other Name: N/A
Location: Natanz, Iran
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
Size: Nine buildings
Facility Status: Operational


Natanz is Iran's primary enrichment facility and houses both the commercial Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) and the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP).[1] The facility consists of three underground buildings, two of which are designed to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and six buildings built aboveground. Two of the aboveground buildings are twin 2,500 meter halls used for gas centrifuge assembly. [2] The nuclear material and enrichment equipment located at the FEP and PFEP are under IAEA safeguards. [3]

Iran covertly moved its gas centrifuge research, development, and assembly operations to Natanz from the Kalaye Electric Company in 2002. [4] The operation did not remain secret for long, however, because the opposition group The National Council of Resistance of Iran publicly identified the site in August 2002. The revelations prompted Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, to reveal Iran's intention to develop the nuclear fuel cycle at the 2002 IAEA General Conference. [5] During IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei's follow up visit in February 2003, Tehran officially declared that it was constructing the FEP and PFEP at Natanz. [6]

As a result of negotiations with France, Germany, the United Kingdom (E3) and the European Union (EU), Iran agreed to suspend enrichment and conversion activities. [7] The suspension was maintained through the duration of talks with the E3 and EU in November 2004. [8] Following the election of the conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August 2005, however, Iran began to backtrack on cooperative agreements with the IAEA. On 10 January 2006, Iran broke the seals safeguarding Natanz and resumed its enrichment program. Shortly thereafter, Iran introduced UF6 into the gas centrifuges at the PFEP. By February 2007, scientists started feeding UF6 into the cascades installed at the FEP. [9]

Sources:
[1] Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), "Nuclear Sites: Facilities: Natanz," ISIS Nuclear Iran, www.isisnucleariran.org.
[2] Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), "Nuclear Sites: Facilities: Natanz," ISIS Nuclear Iran, www.isisnucleariran.org.
[3] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 28 August 2009, www.iaea.org.
[4] Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), "Nuclear Sites: Facilities: Natanz," ISIS Nuclear Iran, www.isisnucleariran.org.
[5] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 6 June 2003, www.iaea.org.
[6] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 6 June 2003, www.iaea.org.
[7] "Statement by the Iranian Government and Visiting EU Foreign Ministers," IAEA and Iran, International Atomic Energy Agency, 21 October 2003, www.iaea.org.
[8] "Paris Agreement: Agreement between Iran, Germany, United Kingdom and France," Diplomatic News, Republique Francaise, 14 November 2004, www.ambafrance-ir.org.
[9] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 28 April 2006, www.iaea.org; International Atomic Energy Agency, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006) in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Report by the Director General, 22 February 2007, 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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