Thursday, February 17, 2005

Iran Has Begun Mining Uranium Ore For New Facility

Iran has neared completion of a uranium production facility that could be used for the assembly of nuclear weapons. Iranian officials said they were in the last stage of completing a uranium ore concentrate production plant. They said the facility, located near the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, would begin operations by 2006.

The Bandar Abbas Yellowcake Production Plant was disclosed by the Iranian opposition in October 2004. The National Council of Resistance of Iran has uncovered several secret nuclear sites, later acknowledged by Teheran, Middle East Newsline reported.

Iran has already begun the mining of uranium, the first stage in the production of nuclear material, officials said.

The IAEA referred to the Bandar Abbas site in its report to the board of governors in November 2004. The report said the site was next to the Gehine uranium mine.

After the uranium is mined, it would be processed into uranium ore concentrate. At that point, the concentrate is turned into uranium hexaflouride, used in gaseous form as feedstock for the enrichment of uranium. ...

The Bandar Abbas facility would process ore extracted from uranium mines into uranium ore concentrate, officials said. The processing of the ore, also known as yellowcake, precedes the production of enriched uranium through gas centrifuges.

Iranian Atomic Energy director Gholamreza Aghazadeh said the facility, termed the Bandar Abbas Yellowcake Production Plant, would begin operations during the next Iranian calendar year. The year begins March 21. ...