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
- Nuclear reactor
- Nuclear reactor: A vessel in which nuclear fission may be sustained and controlled in a chain nuclear reaction. The varieties are many, but all incorporate certain features, including: fissionable or fissile fuel; a moderating material (unless the reactor is operated on fast neutrons); a reflector to conserve escaping neutrons; provisions of removal of heat; measuring and controlling instruments; and protective devices.
- “Update on the Arak Reactor in Iran,” Institute for Science and International Security Report, 25 August 2009, www.isisnucleariran.org.
- Gary Samore, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005), p. 101.
- Institute for Science and International Security, “Nuclear Sites, Uranium Conversion and Fuel Fabrication,” www.isisnucleariran.org.
- David Albright and Christina Walrond, “Update on the Arak Reactor,” Institute for Science and International Security, 15 July 2013, www.isis-online.org.
- ISIS Imagery Brief, “No Visible Evidence of Explosion at Esfahan Nuclear Site; Adjacent Facility Razed,” Institute for Science and International Security, 8 December 2011, www.isisnucleariran.org.