Iran: Uranium Enrichment Plant Underground

#1
Iran: Uranium Enrichment Plant Underground
March 07, 2005 1:47 PM EST

NATANZ, Iran - An Iranian official confirmed Monday a uranium enrichment plant in central Iran is underground as a protection against airstrikes, but insisted that is not a sign the program aims to produce nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials have said building nuclear facilities underground is inconsistent with Iran's contention its atomic program is intended only for the generation of electricity. The Iranians deny Washington's accusation that they are trying to build nuclear weapons.

Ali Akbar Salehi, a nuclear affairs adviser to the foreign minister, said U.S. and Israeli threats forced Iran to take precautions to protect its technology, including the string of centrifuges used to enrich uranium - a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity but also make material suitable for atomic warheads.

"To protect the safety of equipment against possible danger of aerial attack, a major part of the plant has been constructed underground, especially where thousands of centrifuges need to be located," Salehi told The Associated Press.

It was the first public confirmation by Iran that the Natanz facility is underground.

On Saturday, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, confirmed Iran is building a tunnel next to another nuclear facility in Isfahan. He said that the tunnel, under a mountain, will be used to store unspecified equipment and that air attacks would not be able to destroy it.

The central cities of Natanz and Isfahan house the heart of Iran's nuclear program. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment.

The facility at Natanz is at the foot of a mountain in an otherwise barren desert some 200 miles south of the capital, Tehran. Some of its buildings, which are believed to be administrative offices, are visible from the main road running from Kashan to Natanz.

There are military bases not far from the facility. Travelers who stop on the road close to the facility are approached by security officers in plainclothes and asked to leave.

Iran began its nuclear program in secrecy, and now says it has achieved proficiency in the full range of activities involved in enriching uranium.

Iran's former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, said Sunday that Iran initially developed the program in secret and bought nuclear materials on the black market because of U.S. sanctions and European restrictions that denied Iran access to advanced civilian nuclear technology.

He said that Iran has been very open about the program since 2002, when secret aspects of its nuclear activities were revealed, and that it is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The government argues it is entitled to work on civilian uses of uranium enrichment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Iran suspended enrichment-related activities last year to create confidence during negotiations over its program and avoid the U.N. Security Council considering sanctions. But it says maintaining the voluntary freeze depends on progress in talks with Britain, Germany and France, which are negotiating on behalf of the European Union.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 
#2
i am highly suspicious as their intentions
 
#4
I understand the Israelis have 20+ TacNukes.

Funny how no one makes a song and dance about those?
 
#5
Well if the bullies on the block want to run you out of town, you need an equalizer. Israel has theirs. The Iranian's are trying to get there's. The Israelis are alot more responsible than the Iranians are.
 
#6
I understood that the upper limit of the Israelis deliverable arsenal was circa 350 devices falling to around 80 at the lower end of the estimates.

Nobody, at least nobody that's releasing in the public domain seems quite sure.

Some estimates go higher even.
 
#8
WTF do you need 350 devices for?

That's enough to put the Middle East out of bounds until the 4th coming 8O
 
#9
Where nukes are concerned, keeping the other side guessing is a big part of the game. A nuclear shell game. Which hole did I put my goodies ?
 
#10
Probably has to do with the direction in which they point. Most of the time anyway.
 
#12
I believe that is the intent PTP.

It's postulated by some that Israeli doctrine if attacked with special weapons from any source, is to respond by launching on every Arab city within their range. I believe it's known as the "Samson Option".

Purely hypothetical of course but I wouldn't be at all surprised.
 
#13
PartTimePongo said:
WTF do you need 350 devices for?

That's enough to put the Middle East out of bounds until the 4th coming 8O
You're assuming Middle East is the only target area.

Check out "The Samson Option" by Seymour Hersh.

He claims that Israeli strategic capability included attack on targets in the USSR.
 
#14
Wonderful.

'On the Beach' by Neil Shute . Depressing fiction or insightful masterpiece a la 'The crash of '79' :cry:
 
#15
We've got 192 on the books at the moment and the capacity for considerably more if called for.

It could be argued we've rather less to be worried about than the hebrew speaking chaps.
 
#16
PartTimePongo said:
Wonderful.

'On the Beach' by Neil Shute . Depressing fiction or insightful masterpiece a la 'The crash of '79' :cry:
or for a lighter read...The Sum Of All Fears....Tom Clancey has an ability to predict some horrific future threats....

any one read another of his? "Debt of Honour" ? Hmmmm....Airliner....Whitehouse....booom!

:cry:
 
#18
Weren't there a few who tried to pass the blame onto Clancy after 9/11? Certainly some nutjob I knew had this huge conspiracy theory that he was trying to take over the world. Personally, I thought that anyone who'd read Debt of honour would have gone for the Capitol Building. Certainly would have been more effective in messing up the US than what they did hit.
 
#19
man_in_blue said:
Weren't there a few who tried to pass the blame onto Clancy after 9/11? Certainly some nutjob I knew had this huge conspiracy theory that he was trying to take over the world. Personally, I thought that anyone who'd read Debt of honour would have gone for the Capitol Building. Certainly would have been more effective in messing up the US than what they did hit.
Sorry, yes MIB (??) you are right...it was the Capitol Building.....

And they DIDN'T make an impact by hitting the two towers of the WTC, the Pentagon and a field in pensylvania? (where WAS that plane heading anyway?)...just a thought....

Still....Ebola hasn't decimated the western world just yet.....
 
#20
MIB

I thought that anyone who'd read Debt of honour would have gone for the Capitol Building. Certainly would have been more effective in messing up the US than what they did hit.
OBL went for the correct targets, hitting wall street could have potentially undermined the entire global economic system (it proved a lot more resilient than expected) Have a dig at Penn Ave and 5 sided building is as effective as any decapitation exercise, as Bush learned....

As for Nukes, as S Ritter pointed out the mere fact the Iraq constantly moved their equipment around to avoid inspections degraded it too such an extent that it was useless. The Iranian are doing the logical thing, however they are marking the target and hoping that there protection is good enough....remember the HAS during GRANBY?? umm time will tell......... My bet is between 6-12 months.

The riders [of the apocalypse] are busy getting their ponies ready and not for the 3.10 at Lingfield!
 

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