Zirconium Production Plant (ZPP)

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Last Updated: August 21, 2013
Other Name: Fuel Casting Plant; Fuel Element Cladding Plant
Location: Isfahan (Esfahan)
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Unknown

Iran constructed this facility to produce the zirconium cladding necessary for the production of fuel pellets for the IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak. [1] The metals and alloys produced in this facility are further processed at the Fuel Manufacturing Plant. The facility, reportedly constructed with Chinese assistance [2], has a capacity to produce 10 tons of zirconium tubing annually. [3] However, the plant's operational status remains uncertain, particularly in light of evidence that Iran attempted to purchase zirconium "via illicit nuclear trade" as late as 2012, according to David Albright and Christina Walrond of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). [4]

A November 2011 explosion in Isfahan did not damage the ZPP, according to satellite imagery analysis from ISIS. [5]

Sources:
[1] "Update on the Arak Reactor in Iran," Institute for Science and International Security Report, August 25, 2009, www.isisnucleariran.org.
[2] Gary Samore, Iran's Strategic Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005), p. 101.
[3] Institute for Science and International Security, "Nuclear Sites, Uranium Conversion and Fuel Fabrication," www.isisnucleariran.org.
[4] David Albright and Christina Walrond, "Update on the Arak Reactor," Institute for Science and International Security, July 15, 2013, www.isis-online.org.
[5] ISIS Imagery Brief, "No Visible Evidence of Explosion at Esfahan Nuclear Site; Adjacent Facility Razed," Institute for Science and International Security, December 8, 2011, www.isisnucleariran.org.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.