Uranium Enrichment and Fuel Fabrication - Current Issues (Asia)
(last updated 23 Dec 2017)
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China and Belgium sign agreement on construction of pilot MOX fuel fabrication plant in China
China and Belgium have signed a framework agreement on the construction of a pilot MOX fuel fabrication plant in China.
The framework agreement defines the context for construction of a pilot plant to produce mixed oxide nuclear fuel (MOX) and for the use of MOX in Chinese nuclear reactors. A commercial agreement including technology transfer and technical assistance could soon follow, according to Belgian partners Belgonucléaire , SCK-CEN and Tractebel . The plant would be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) with the support of the Belgian companies.
(World Nuclear News Oct. 7, 2010)
AECL, China conclude agreement on development of CANDU fuel from spent light water reactor fuel
On Nov. 3, 2008, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) formalized an advanced nuclear fuel development agreement with China's Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co. (TQNPC), China North Nuclear Fuel Corporation and Nuclear Power Institute of China.
The agreement is to jointly develop the technology for the use of uranium
recovered from the spent fuel of light water reactors in China, and to be used
in the CANDU reactors in China, located southwest of Shanghai. The planned
development program will involve scientists and engineers from Canada and
China but would not be implemented in Canada.
Russia to set up another gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in China
China is building a gas centrifuge enrichment plant successfully by using Russia's technology, head of the Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex, said.
China is planning to put the plant into operation in 2012, Sergei Kiriyenko said.
(Zee News Aug. 31, 2010)
On May 23, 2008, Chinese and Russian officials signed a $1 billion deal to have Moscow build a nuclear fuel enrichment plant in China and supply uranium.
The deal calls for Russia to build a $500 million nuclear fuel enrichment plant and supply semi-enriched uranium worth at least $500 million.
(AP May 23, 2008)
Russia signed an agreement with China to set up another gas centrifuge enrichment facility in China with an annual capacity of 500,000 separative work units (SWU), a Tenex spokesman said.
Under a 1992 deal, Russia helped China set up two centrifuge facilities with an annual capacity of 200,000 and 300,000 SWU respectively in Hanzhong, a city about 900 km southwest of Beijing. (Gulf Times Nov. 7, 2007)
Jiangmen uranium processing plant project canceled after protest
The municipal government in Jiangmen, Guangdong announced on Saturday (July 13) that it would drop a controversial plan to build a uranium processing project in the city. But local residents worried it was just city official's delay tactic to stop them from staging more protests.
(South China Morning Post July 13, 2013)
Jiangmen handed over an official document reaffirming the city's plans to scrap a proposed uranium processing plant yesterday after residents refused to believe that the project was dead.
The formal red-letter statement was released after more than 2,000 protesters marched on the municipal government headquarters - the third such rally in as many days - to secure written assurances that Jiangmen officials would stick by their promise on Saturday to withdraw the project.
(South China Morning Post July 15, 2013)
Jiangmen residents protest against proposed uranium processing plant, extension of comment period conceded
More than 1,000 people have marched to the municipal government office in Jiangmen to protest against a plan to build a uranium processing plant in Guangdong City. The protesters say they're concerned about radiation and possible nuclear pollution. They're also unhappy with the government's 10-day consultation process, which ends tomorrow, RTHK reports. Jiangmen authorities have already signed an agreement with the China National Nuclear Corporation to house the 40-billion-yuan project. Construction is expected to begin at the end of this year.
(The Standard July 12, 2013)
Heshan mayor Wu Yuxiong said that the local government has decided to extend the period in which the risk assessment report is publicly accessible by a further ten days.
(South China Morning Post July 12, 2013)
Concern over sketchy nature of details and possible radiation risks from proposed uranium processing plant in Guangdong
Nuclear experts and green activists have called for more information from the Guangdong government after limited details were released about its proposal for a uranium processing plant in Jiangmen, about 100 kilometres from Hong Kong.
An announcement by the Jiangmen City Development and Reform Bureau said the 230-hectare plant would carry out uranium conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication.
But the three-page statement, issued last Thursday (July 4), did not make it clear whether the plant, in the Longwan industrial district of Zhishanzhen, would perform spent fuel reprocessing - recycling of old fuel rods that could emit high doses of radiation - or what measures would be used to avoid radiation leaks.
(South China Morning Post July 10, 2013)
Nuclear fuel complex to be built in Heshan, Guangdong province, comprising uranium conversion, enrichment, and nuclear fuel fabrication
In May 2013 CGN and CNNC announced that the CNY 45 billion ($7.33 billion) Heshan Nuclear Power Industry Park is to be set up by China Nuclear Fuel Element Co (CNFEC) at Daying (or Longwan) Industrial Park at Zishan town in Heshan and Jiangmen city, Guangdong province. It is a joint venture of CGN and CNNC . It will be established during the 12th 5-year plan and be fully operational by 2020. It involves 1000 tU/yr fuel fabrication as well as a conversion plant (14,000 t/yr) and an enrichment plant, close to CGN’s Taishan power plant.
(WNA June 2013)
Yibin nuclear fuel plant to double capacity to 800 t/a: Recently, the Proposal for Nuclear Fuel Element Production Line Expansion Project of China Jianzhong Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd. (CJNF) has been official approved by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense agreeing on the initiation of the project. The implementation of the project will add 400 tons of uranium per year to the production capacity to meet future needs of the nuclear power development for fuel elements in China.
(CNNC July 19, 2010)
China's Yibin nuclear fuel fabrication facility has reached an annual output of 400 tonnes per year, according to the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).
(WNN Oct. 30, 2008)
Hanau MOX fuel plant equipment to be used for manufacture of fast breeder fuel
China is planning to use the equipment from the never operated Siemens Hanau MOX fuel production plant for a planned MOX fuel plant at Lanzhou. The German government has made no decision yet on an export license for the equipment, however.
The MOX fuel is to be used in fast breeder reactors to be built. A 65 MW fast breeder research reactor is currently under construction at Fangshan near Beijing and shall be operable from 2007. The plutonium required for the MOX fuel is to be recovered from the spent fuel of China's eight conventional reactors, though a commercial reprocessing plant not yet exists. The excess plutonium to be breeded in the fast breeder reactor would be highly weapons grade. (Frankfurter Rundschau March 13/16, 2004)
China produces first enriched uranium with own centrifuge technology
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced that it has finally been able to successfully produce enriched uranium for industrial purposes using domestically made technology.
The first batch of the independently produced fuel, made in a facility in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, on Friday (June 21), can be used in nuclear power stations nationwide after further processing.
(Global Times June 25, 2013)
China deploys domestically produced uranium enrichment centrifuge
China today announced the successful installation of a domestically produced uranium enrichment centrifuge for industrial use.
The centrifuge was built in a uranium enrichment plant in northwest China's city of Lanzhou, a statement from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country's premier nuclear body, said.
(PTI Feb. 22, 2013)
First stage of Lanzhou centrifuge enrichment plant completed early
The third line of a centrifuge enrichment plant in China is finished, two years ahead of the date stipulated in the 1992 contract between Chinese and Russian nuclear industry, according to the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy. The new plant is located about 25 km north of Lanzhou, in Gansu Province, and has a capacity of 500,000 SWU per year. The first and second stages of the plant, located in Hanjun, in the same province, were put into operation in March 1998 and April 2000 respectively. Furthermore, another 500,000 SWU per year is to be added subsequently at Lanzhou.
(Platts Nov. 12, 2001; Nuclear Fuel May 17, 1999)
Russia delivers first centrifuges for fourth stage of Hanzhong centrifuge enrichment plant
Russia's Atomenergoprom has delivered the first centrifuges for the fourth construction stage of the Hanzhong enrichment plant. China committed itself to use the enriched uranium only for its own purposes.
(RIA Novosti May 4, 2009)
Russia and India establishing cooperation in uranium enrichment
Russia is working on localizing of manufacturing of components for nuclear power plants in India, cooperation on uranium enrichment is being established, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Sputnik and the IANS news agency.
(Sputnik Oct. 13, 2016)
India searches for site for another nuclear fuel fabrication plant
Sites in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are on the radar for setting up a third nuclear fuel fabrication facility to meet requirements of nuclear power reactors, even as the Ministry of Environment and Forests' approval for the second unit at Kota, Rajasthan is awaited.
The site selection committee of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) visited Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and few other places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to find a suitable site for what will be the biggest nuclear fuel fabrication facility, with an envisaged production of 1,250 tonnes a year.
(The Hindu May 14, 2013)
India and Russia consider plan for nuclear fuel plant in India
India and Russia are considering the setting up of a joint venture to produce nuclear fuel in India, Russia's nuclear chief said.
"A project to build a factory in India for the production of nuclear fuel is under consideration," Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in the wake of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to India.
The possibility of setting up a nuclear fuel facility in India is envisaged in the Inter-Government Agreement on Cooperation in the use of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purpose, signed on Friday (Mar. 12) in New Delhi.
(The Hindu Mar. 14, 2010)
India and Russia sign civil nuclear agreement, ensuring nuclear fuel supply
India and Russia have sealed a breakthrough long-term pact for expanding civil nuclear cooperation that is free from any restrictions on India and guarantees it against any curbs in the future.
Under the agreement signed on Monday (Dec. 7), Russia will set up more nuclear reactors in India, transfer the full range of nuclear energy technologies and ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel.
(The Hindu Dec. 8, 2009)
Russia delivers first batch of heavy water reactor fuel to India
Russia's TVEL, a subsidiary of state-controlled nuclear power company Atomenergoprom, has delivered its first shipment of nuclear fuel for Indian heavy-water reactors, Atomenergoprom said.
"Thirty metric tons of pellets were delivered to the nuclear fuel complex in Hyderabad for further conversion into fuel for the Rajasthan nuclear power plant," the company said.
In line with a $700 million contract signed February 11, 2009, with New Delhi on fuel supplies to Indian nuclear power plants, Russia is to supply India with 2,000 metric tons of uranium pellets.
(RIA Novosti April 10, 2009)
The first consignment of 40 cylinders of enriched uranium from Russia has arrived at the Koodankulam atomic power station in Tamil Nadu on May 28, 2008, station project director K C Purohit told reporters.
He said another batch of 163 cylinders would arrive from Russia in the coming months.
The enriched uranium fuel is in the form of final fuel assembly and it will be loaded into a reactor by October 2008, he said.
He said works on two Russian reactors called VVER-1000 were progressing and it was likely to be commissioned by January 2009.
(PTI May 30, 2008)
Villagers block land allocated for construction of uranium enrichment plant
Thousands of sheep, cattle and hundreds of villagers of Dodda Ullarthy, Challakere and Chitradurga on Tuesday (Nov. 25) occupied Amrit Mahal Kaval land and claimed their rights over it.
They are opposing the setting up of a Uranium enrichment facility by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC, Mumbai) there. Villagers marched from Dodda Ullarthy towards the Kaval, broke through the fences built around the grassland ecosystems, pushing aside the police and tahsildar.
The officials relented when it was pointed out that villagers were acting in compliance with directions of the Green Tribunal that barred BARC from initiating any work unless it gets environmental clearance. Tahsildar S S Pandith said the issue would be discussed at a higher level.
(Indian Express Nov. 26, 2014)
India starts building large unsafeguarded centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in Chitradurga District (Karnataka), report
According to Washington D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), India is in the early stages of building a large uranium enrichment centrifuge complex, the Special Material Enrichment Facility (SMEF), in Karnataka.
Using commercial satellite imagery, ISIS identified two sites situated in Challakere Taluk within the Chitradurga District in Karnataka: near the village of Khudapura, and near the village of Ullarthi Kaval. The latter seems to be the main location of the new uranium enrichment facility.
In 2011, India announced publicly its intention to build this industrial-scale centrifuge complex in Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga District (Karnataka). India's top nuclear official said in 2011 that the Special Material Enrichment Facility will not be safeguarded and will have multiple roles, both civilian and military.
> View India's New Uranium Enrichment Plant in Karnataka , by David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, ISIS Reports, July 1, 2014
> Aerial View: Google Maps
Expansion of India's military gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility operational in 2015 - IHS
India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons, a defence research group said on Friday (June 20), raising the stakes in an arms race with China and Pakistan.
The revelation highlights a lack of nuclear safeguards on India under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while sanctions-bound Iran faces minute scrutiny in talks with world powers over its own nuclear programme.
New units at the Indian Rare Metals Plant would increase India's ability to produce weapons-grade uranium to twice the amount needed for its planned nuclear-powered submarine fleet, IHS Jane's said.
The facility, located near Mysore in southern India, could be operational by mid-2015, the research group said, basing its findings on analysis of satellite imagery and public statements by Indian officials.
(Reuters June 20, 2014)
India apparently finishes construction of military gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility
India has expanded a secretive site that could be used to enrich more uranium for nuclear weapons, a US think tank said Wednesday (Dec. 4), citing satellite imagery.
The Institute for Science and International Security , a private group opposed to nuclear proliferation, said that India appeared to be finishing a second gas centrifuge facility at its Rare Materials Plant near the southern city of Mysore.
"This new facility could significantly increase India's ability to produce highly enriched uranium for military purposes, including more powerful nuclear weapons," the institute said in a report that analyzed an image taken in April.
The institute said that India started building a second centrifuge plant near Mysore in 2010, but it was unclear whether it was a replacement for the first facility at the site or a supplement.
If it is a new facility, "India could have more than doubled its enrichment capacity, if the original building continues to function as an enrichment plant," it said.
Indian officials have reportedly said that highly enriched uranium from Mysore would fuel its new nuclear-powered submarines. India's nuclear weapons program has traditionally been based on plutonium, not uranium. (The Frontier Post Dec. 4, 2013)
> Download report: Construction Finishing of Likely New Indian Centrifuge Facility at Rare Materials Plant, December 4, 2013 (1.5MB PDF - ISIS)
India expands military gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility
The Rare Materials Plant (RMP), India's lone uranium enrichment plant, located at Rattehalli on the outskirts of Mysore, is undergoing massive capacity-building as part of India's gas centrifuge enrichment programme.
A new gas centrifuge plant is being built at the site to enhance the output of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), a fuel used in naval reactors and thermo-nuclear weapons, at least by three times the current production levels in next couple of years.
Sources in the RMP said the new centrifuge plant was coming up on an area of 120 acres and was nearing completion. By 2016, India looks to produce at least 30,000 separative work units (SWU) per year, a common measure of the output of a uranium enrichment plant, as India is going aggressively with its nuclear programme and plans to install more nuclear reactors in near future.
(Deccan Chronicle Sep. 3, 2012)
India appears to expand its military gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility
Google Earth recently posted satellite imagery from GeoEye taken on March 3, 2010 of the Rare Materials Plant (RMP) in India. This is the site of India's military gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program. In the new imagery, initial excavation and construction of a large building or buildings can be seen. While the construction is in its early stages in this image, the size of the building or buildings to be constructed indicates that these will be large industrial buildings. A DigitalGlobe satellite image from 2005 shows the same area as undeveloped with several adjacent ponds.
Based on procurement data and public advertisements for bidding requests, Paul Brannan of Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded in 2006 that India was on the verge of adding at least 3,000 centrifuges to the RMP1. If the construction seen in the March 3, 2010 imagery is for a new gas centrifuge hall, India’s uranium enrichment capacity at RMP will be greatly expanded.
Since the 1970s, India has pursued gas centrifuges to enrich uranium. The history and current status of India’s gas centrifuge program has been a long-held state secret. ISIS has been producing reports that trace the history of India’s centrifuge enrichment program and assess its current and projected enrichment capacity based on open sources, information from interviews with Indian and other government officials, and publicly available procurement data.
The Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) commissioned India's main enrichment plant, codenamed the Rare Materials Project (RMP), around 1990. In addition to a gas centrifuge facility, this site, located about 19 kilometers from Mysore, may also contain a uranium hexafluoride production facility. As per ISIS, by 1997, after several years of difficulty, India seems to have achieved a technical breakthrough at RMP. Although India has experienced difficulties in building centrifuges, it now appears to be competent at constructing centrifuges comparable to those common in Europe in the 1970s. ISIS concluded in 2007 that, India is currently operating between 2,000 and 3,000 centrifuges at the RMP. The DAE in 2007 was attempting to expand the number of centrifuges at RMP by 3,000, increasing RMP's capacity by at least 15,000 separative work units (SWU) per year, a common measure of the output of a uranium enrichment plant and more than double its current output.
The Indian government designated its gas centrifuge enrichment facilities, such as RMP, as military sites under the framework of US-India nuclear cooperation. Thus, India is unlikely to use these facilities to create fuel for the Tarapur boiling water reactors, which will be designated as civilian facilities. India is currently importing sufficient amounts of low enriched uranium (LEU) to fuel the Tarapur reactors. These reactors could have otherwise absorbed the RMP's capacity.
As a result of its recently acquired ability to import LEU, India can devote the enrichment capacity of RMP to highly enriched uranium (HEU) for military applications. As per ISIS in 2007, India would most likely use the HEU for fuel in submarine reactors and in thermonuclear weapons. The production of thermonuclear weapons may lead India to conduct additional underground nuclear tests as it seeks to make more deliverable, reliable, and efficient weapons.
(Frontier India June 2, 2010)
India develops fourth generation uranium enrichment gas centrifuges
As part of India's strategic programme, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed fourth generation uranium enrichment gas centrifuges with an output of more than 10 times the earlier design, a top BARC official has said.
"An experimental cascade of the fourth generation design is in operation at BARC and will soon be ready for induction at the Rare Materials Plant (RMP) in Ratnahalli near Mysore," BARC director Sreekumar Banerjee said.
"The Third generation design with 5 times more output than earlier designs are presently being inducted at RMP," he said.
(Business Standard Oct. 31, 2008 )
Foundation stone laid for Rawatbhata nuclear fuel plant:
The Rs 18 billion [US$ 281 million] Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Facility (NFFFF) and Zirconium Fabrication Facility (ZFF) proposed to come up at Rawatbhata, 65 km from Kota in Chittorgarh district, will cater to needs of the upcoming 10 units of 700 MW atomic power plant in the country. It is likely to be completed by 2022.
The foundation stone of the nuclear fuel complex at Rawatbhata was laid by the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Shekhar Basu on Saturday (Sep. 9). This project was cleared in 2014 by the Union Cabinet but got delayed by almost two years due to environmental clearance.
(DNA Sep. 11, 2017)
The Rs 24 billion [US$ 385 million] plant with a capacity of 500 tonnes per annum being established in Kota, Rajasthan, though delayed will be ready in the next couple of years to meet future needs, said N Saibaba, Chief Executive of the Hyderabad-headquartered Nuclear Fuel Complex under the Department of Atomic Energy.
(The Hindu April 8, 2015)
A massive increase in indigenous fuel production is on the cards to meet the country's ambitious nuclear energy programme, with the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) firming up plans to establish a Rs. 10 billion [US$ 216 million] plant in Rajasthan and proposing to set up joint ventures for fuel fabrication with American, Russian and French companies.
NFC chief executive R.N. Jayaraj said the pre-project activities were in full swing for establishing a 500-tonne NFC plant at Rawatbhata, near Kota.
(The Hindu Oct. 13, 2009)
Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC)
Blast in Hyderabad Nuclear Fuel Complex
On Nov. 17, 2002, a blast occurred in the chemical plant used for uranium purification. The top lid of the process plant hit the asbestos sheet roof, which fell off. Seven persons were working in the plant at the time, but no one was injured. Uranium-bearing liquid contained in the plant spilled onto the ground and collected in a pit. It was later taken back into the process plant.
After the blast, the Health Physics Unit of the NFC monitored the area and declared there was no airborne activity and people were allowed to resume their work in the other plants at the NFC. (Rediff Nov. 18, 2002)
On April 22, 2003, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) permitted the resumption of operation of the wet section of Natural Uranium Oxide Fuel Plant (NUOFP) of the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) in Hyderabad. The Board had suspended its operation on November 20, 2003, pending inquiry into the reasons of a chemical explosion.
A specialist investigation committee of the AERB confirmed that the explosion was due to what is known as "Red Oil Reaction" — uncontrolled chemical reaction involving hot organic liquid and aqueous nitrate solution. The committee observed that the necessary conditions such as presence of nitrate, organic liquids and temperature for causing the reaction existed in the evaporator at the wet section of the plant at the time of the incident. The NFC management has now modified the process to exclude the evaporation step. (The Hindu, April 23, 2003)
Iran, world powers reach tentative agreement on Tehran's nuclear program
Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday (April 2) on curbing Iran's nuclear program for at least a decade, a step towards a final pact that could end 12 years of brinkmanship, threats and confrontation.
The tentative agreement, after eight days of marathon talks in Switzerland, clears the way for negotiations on a settlement aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb and in return lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The framework is contingent on reaching an agreement by June 30. All sanctions on Iran remain in place until a final deal.
Under the outline deal, Iran would shut more than two-thirds of its installed centrifuges capable of producing uranium that could be used to build a bomb, dismantle a reactor that could produce plutonium, and accept intrusive verification.
Iran agreed to significantly reduce the number of installed uranium enrichment centrifuges it has to 6,104 from 19,000 and will only operate 5,060 for 10 years under the future agreement with the six powers, according to a U.S. fact sheet. Iran will only use first generation centrifuges during that time, it said.
One of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations, Iran's research and development work, will also be limited.
"Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years," the U.S. fact sheet said. It also noted that Iran will remove the 1,000 more advanced second-generation centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in International Atomic Energy Agency-monitored storage for 10 years.
(Reuters Apr. 3, 2015)
> Download: Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding
the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program , April 2, 2015 (98kB PDF - White House)
Iran has 18,000 centrifuges, including 1,000 new more efficient ones, ex nuclear chief says
Iran has installed 18,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the country's outgoing nuclear chief was quoted as saying by Iranian media on Saturday (Aug. 17).
Iran has 17,000 older "first-generation" IR-1 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating and 7,000 are ready to start operations, the ISNA news agency quoted Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, outgoing head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), as saying.
A May report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog indicated that Iran had by then installed roughly 16,600 IR-1 machines in two separate facilities.
Abbasi-Davani also said there were 1,000 new, more advanced centrifuges ready to start operations, in a reference to IR-2m centrifuges, which once operational would allow Iran to enrich uranium several times faster than the IR-1 machine.
The IAEA in its last report in May said Iran had installed a total of 689 such centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings.
(Reuters Aug. 17, 2013)
Iran is developing secret uranium-enrichment site, dissident group claims
Iran is developing a secret uranium enrichment site near Qazvin, 120 miles west of Tehran, a dissident group said today (Sep. 9), citing satellite images of the area.
The facility is called Behjatad-Abyek and is code-named 311, according to the Iran Policy Committee, which supports the anti-regime People's Mujahedeen of Iran.
"This is certainly part of the secret weapons program," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, who presented the photos at a Washington press conference. "It's just moved underground, in tunnels, hidden from the outside world."
The Iranian government has spent $100 million on the mountainous site, where the photos, taken as far back as 2008 and as recently as last month, show excavation and tunneling, the group said.
Jafarzadeh said intelligence information the group obtained indicates the facility could accommodate thousands of enrichment centrifuges, and construction at the site will be finished this year.
(Bloomberg Sep. 9, 2010)
Report: Iran seeking to smuggle raw uranium from Kazakhstan
> View here
IAEA Board requests Director General to refer Iran to Security Council
On Feb. 4, 2006, the IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution requesting the Director General to report to the UN Security Council all IAEA reports and resolutions, as adopted, relating to the implementation of safeguards in Iran.
> Download Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Resolution adopted on 4 February 2006 (PDF)
IAEA resolution demands Iran suspend uranium enrichment
A 35-nation meeting of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency on Sep. 18, 2004, demanded that Iran suspend all aspects of uranium enrichment, setting an indirect November, 2004, deadline for Tehran to heed its conditions.
A resolution approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors said it "considers it necessary" that Iran freeze all uranium enrichment and related programs.
It also said it "strongly urges" Iran to meet all demands by the agency in its investigation of the country's nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear activity, including unrestricted access to sites, information and personnel that can shed light on still unanswered questions on whether Tehran was interested in the atom for nuclear weapons.
(AP Sep. 18, 2004)
> Download Resolution GOV/2004/79 (Sep. 18, 2004) (PDF)
Iran signs accord allowing unannounced inspections of nuclear facilities
On December 18, 2003, Iran signed a key accord opening its nuclear facilities to unfettered and unannounced inspections. The agreement, tacked on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, requires Iran to submit to intrusive and surprise U.N. inspections of its nuclear complexes and research facilities.
(AP Dec. 18, 2003)
Iran used Urenco centrifuge design
Iran has acknowledged to the U.N. its uranium enrichment centrifuge program is based on a European firm's designs that appear identical to ones used in Pakistan's quest for an atom bomb, diplomats say.
Tehran, accused by Washington of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, told the U.N. nuclear agency it got the blueprints from a "middleman" whose identity the agency had not determined, a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
It was unclear where the "middleman" got the drawings. The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said in a report Iran told the IAEA it got centrifuge drawings "from a foreign intermediary around 1987."
Several diplomats familiar with the IAEA said the blueprints were of a machine by the Dutch enrichment unit of the British-Dutch-German consortium Urenco.
(Reuters Nov. 27, 2003)
IAEA Board adopts resolution on Iran
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Resolution adopted by the Board on 26 November 2003, GOV/2003/81 (PDF)
Report by the Director General to the Board, 10 November 2003, GOV/2003/75 (PDF)
On Oct. 21, 2003, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and give inspectors unrestricted access to its nuclear facilities as demanded by the IAEA, a step that could ease the standoff over fears Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.
(AP Oct. 21, 2003)
Aerial view: Google Maps
Iran starts UO2 production line at Isfahan conversion plant:
In agreement with G5+1, Iran launched a production line of natural and enriched UO2 (uranium dioxide) at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) of Isfahan on Saturday (Aug. 23).
The Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Isfahan contains process lines to convert yellowcake into uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride. It began operations in June 2006.
(IRNA Aug. 23, 2014)
On Aug. 8, 2005, Iran resumed uranium conversion at its facility near Isfahan under IAEA supervision, a move EU officials have warned will probably see its nuclear case sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran had agreed to suspend all nuclear fuel work in November 2004 as part of a deal with the European Union while both sides explored a long-term arrangement for Iran's nuclear programme. But, on Aug. 6, 2005, Iran rejected an EU proposal offering it economic and political incentives to halt nuclear fuel work for good.
(Reuters Aug. 8, 2005)
Iran has inaugurated a conversion plant for uranium in the central city of Isfahan, Iranian nuclear officials said on March 27, 2004. The facility began operation "some time ago," a senior official at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on condition of anonymity.
(AP March 27, 2004)
Some information on the processes and capacities of the project was given by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Vice President for Nuclear Fuel Production M. Ghannadi-Maragheh at the WNA Annual Symposium 3-5 September 2003 in London:
- Conversion of 300 t/a of U3O8 to 480 t/a AUC (ammonium uranyl carbonate).
- Conversion of 480 t/a AUC via UO2 to 282 t/a UF4. About 95% of the UF4 will be used to produce UF6 and 5% to produce uranium ingot.
- Conversion of 265 t/a of UF4 to 285 t/a UF6.
- Conversion of about 250t of depleted UF6 to 223 t/a depleted UF4 to "simplify waste management".
- Production of F2 by electrolyzing of HF and KHF2.
- Production of 11.3 t/a natural, and 34 t/a enriched UO2 powder.
A Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) is close to inauguration at Isfahan in central Iran, according to Gholamreza Aqazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. (Reuters Feb. 12, 2003)
Aerial view: Google Maps
Iran deploys anti-aircraft missiles to Fordo enrichment plant
The Tehran government has placed Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missiles at the Fordo nuclear facility. The uranium enrichment plant was due to be scaled down under last year's deal with world powers.
Iranian state television has confirmed the deployment Sunday (Aug. 28), showing footage of an S-300 carrier truck at Fordo, raising its missile launchers towards the sky, alongside other weaponry.
(Deutsche Welle Aug. 29, 2016)
Iran to halt uranium enrichment in Fordo underground facility, according to nuclear deal
Iran and six world powers have concluded an agreement that will lift sanctions on Iran but place strict limits on its nuclear programme for more than a decade, in a historic compromise designed to stop the spread of atomic weapons and avert a major new conflict in the Middle East.
Among the conditions of the agreement are: Iran will reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. It will stop using its underground facility at Fordow for enriching uranium
[leaving Natanz as Iran's only enrichment plant]. Iran's stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced to 300kg, a 96% reduction. It will achieve this reduction either by diluting it or shipping it out of the country. [...]
(Guardian July 14, 2015)
Iran ready to sharply increase enrichment work in Fordo underground facility - IAEA
Iran is ready to sharply expand its uranium enrichment in an underground site after installing all the centrifuges it was built for, a U.N. nuclear report showed on Friday (Nov. 16), a development likely to fuel Western alarm over Tehran's nuclear aims.
The Islamic state has put in place nearly 2,800 centrifuges that the Fordow enrichment site, buried deep inside a mountain, was designed for and could soon double the number of them operating to almost 1,400, according to the confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by Reuters.
Tehran has produced about 233 kg (512 pounds) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, an increase of 43 kg since August this year, according to the report issued in Vienna.
(Reuters Nov. 16, 2012)
Iran doubles underground enrichment capacity: IAEA
Iran has doubled the number of uranium enrichment machines it has in an underground bunker, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday (Aug. 30), showing Tehran's defiance towards Western pressure to stop its atomic work and the threat of Israeli attack.
The number of enrichment centrifuges at Fordow, a site buried deep inside a mountain to better protect it against any enemy strike, more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May, according to the IAEA's quarterly report. However, the new machines were not yet operating, it said.
The report showed that Iran had produced nearly 190 kg of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, up from 145 kg in May.
(Reuters Aug. 30, 2012)
Report: Iran begins uranium enrichment at new site near Qom
Iran has begun uranium enrichment at a new underground site well protected from possible airstrikes, a leading hardline newspaper reported Sunday (Jan. 8).
Kayhan daily, which is close to Iran's ruling clerics, said Tehran has begun injecting uranium gas into sophisticated centrifuges at the Fordo facility near the holy city of Qom.
(AP Jan. 8, 2012)
International Atomic Energy Agency's board censures construction of enrichment plant in Iran
The UN nuclear watchdog censured Iran on Friday (Nov. 27) and demanded it immediately halt construction of a newly-revealed uranium enrichment plant as world powers united against Tehran.
China and Russia joined forces with Britain, France, Germany and the United States to push through the resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency's board.
(AFP Nov. 27, 2009)
> View IAEA release Nov. 27, 2009
> Download IAEA Board of Governors resolution Nov. 27, 2009 (PDF)
Iran reveals existence of second uranium enrichment plant
Iran has revealed the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant, the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed.
Tehran made the announcement earlier this week in a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammed ElBaradei.
The New York Times quotes US officials as saying that the secret site - built inside a mountain near the ancient city of Qom - is not yet complete, but could be ready for operation next year.
(BBC Sep. 25, 2009)
Aerial view: Google Maps
Iran has boosted uranium enrichment capacity at Natanz:
Iran further increased its uranium enrichment capacity in the last three months, yet it also limited its progress in certain sensitive areas of its disputed nuclear program in an apparent attempt to avoid risking retaliation from Israel or the United States, according to a report issued Wednesday (May 22) by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency.
The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said that since February Iran has added more than 520 advanced-design IR-2M centrifuges at its plant in Natanz. The model has up to five times the capacity of the first-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.
The installations bring to about 700 the total number of the IR-2M centrifuges, toward Iran's goal of 3,132.
(Los Angeles Times May 22, 2013)
Iran installs advanced centrifuges at Natanz uranium enrichment plant:
Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday (Feb. 21), a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.
In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 180 so-called IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings had been put in place at the facility near the central town of Natanz. They were not yet operating.
If launched successfully, such machines could enable Iran to speed up significantly its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to devise a nuclear weapon. Iran says it is refining uranium only for peaceful energy purposes.
(Reuters Feb. 21, 2013)
"I am proud to announce that we have started enriching uranium to the 3.5 percent level," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI ), said on April 11, 2006, adding that the pilot enrichment plant in Natanz, south of Tehran, had started working on April 10, 2006.
Influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said earlier on April 11, 2006, that Iran was producing enriched uranium from a cascade of 164 centrifuges.
(Reuters Apr. 11, 2006)
International inspectors visiting Iran were shown a small network of centrifuges for enriching uranium, spurring concerns that Iran is making headway in its suspected program to develop nuclear weapons. The site in question is near the city of Natanz [located between Isfahan and Kashan in central Iran]. (New York Times Feb. 23, 2003)
First steps have been taken to build an uranium centrifuge enrichment plant at Kashan in central Iran, according to Gholamreza Aqazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. (Reuters Feb. 12, 2003)
> View details on Natanz enrichment plant: ISIS · GlobalSecurity.org
Aerial view: Google Maps
Isfahan nuclear fuel plant completed:
Tehran is capable of making its own nuclear fuel plates and rods, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on Saturday (Jan. 8), according to Fars News Agency.
"We have built an advanced manufacturing unit at Isfahan for the fuel plates," Ali-Akbar Salehi said.
"A grand transformation has taken place in the production of [nuclear] plates and rods. With the completion of the unit in Isfahan, we are one of the few countries which can produce fuel rods and fuel plates."
(RIA Novosti Jan. 8, 2011)
On Apr. 9, 2009, Iran inaugurated a new nuclear fuel plant at Isfahan. The plant is to produce uranium oxide fuel for a planned heavy water reactor. The reactor is to start operation in 2010, at the latest.
(APA Apr. 9, 2009)
Some information on the project was given by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Vice President for Nuclear Fuel Production M. Ghannadi-Maragheh at the WNA Annual Symposium 3-5 September 2003 in London:
The projected annual production capacity of the Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) is 30-35 metric tonnes in the preliminary phase, extendable to 120 tonnes of fuel production for nuclear power plants and 20 tonnes for research reactors.
A plant to produce fuel casings for uranium is close to completion in Isfahan in central Iran, according to Gholamreza Aqazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. (Reuters Feb. 12, 2003)
Japans sends some weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium to the U.S. for downblending
A ship thought to be carrying 331 kilograms of plutonium as well as highly enriched uranium kept by Japan is en route to the United States, where the material will be downgraded.
The vessel left a port in this prefecture northeast of Tokyo on March 22. The shipment, although not officially acknowledged by the Japanese government for security reasons, is part of a program to reduce Japan's stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear materials.
The transfer of research-purpose plutonium and highly-enriched uranium is based on a 2014 Japan-U.S. agreement to hand over the material to the United States. Japan's cooperation reflects U.S. efforts to reduce nuclear material that could be targeted by terrorists for their use.
(Asahi Shimbun Mar. 23, 2016)
Japan's MOX fuel imports cost up to nine times more than conventional uranium fuel
Five nuclear plant operators have spent at least ¥99.4 billion (US$ 836 million) on imports of plutonium-containing mixed oxide (MOX) fuel since it was first shipped to Japan in 1999, Jiji Press learned on Saturday (Feb. 21).
Some of the imports cost nine times more than conventional uranium fuel.
Japanese power companies that use or plan to use the MOX fuel commission the fuel's production from companies in France and elsewhere.
The five that imported MOX fuel are Tokyo Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan.
Of the five, Kansai Electric, Shikoku Electric and Kyushu Electric have revised their monthly power rates to reflect the cost of using MOX fuel.
Since 1999, MOX fuel has been shipped to six of the five companies' nuclear power stations. Trade statistics compiled by the Finance Ministry and other data show that the imports since that time have totaled ¥99.437 billion (US$ 836 million), including the costs of transportation and insurance.
In June 2013, Kansai Electric imported 20 units of MOX fuel assemblies from France for ¥18.514 billion (US$ 156 million) for use at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama power station in Fukui Prefecture.
The average cost per unit stood at ¥925 million (US$ 7.78 million), compared with the average of around ¥103 million (US$ 0.865 million) for 60 units of conventional uranium fuel that Kansai Electric imported from the United States between October and November that year, also for use at the two reactors.
(Japan Times Feb. 22, 2015)
Japan's plutonium stockpile increased to 47.1 tonnes in 2013
Japan possessed about 47.1 tons of plutonium in and outside the country as of the end of 2013, up some 2.9 tons from the year before, the Cabinet Office said Tuesday (Sep. 16).
Newly added were 2.3 tons generated through spent fuel reprocessing outsourced to Britain and 640 kg Japan had not reported to the global watchdog in 2012 and 2013. The 640 kg is part of mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel stored in a reactor that was offline during this period.
Of the 47 tons of plutonium Japan owns, about 10.8 tons have been stored in the country and the remaining portion kept in Britain and France, where spent nuclear fuel from Japanese power plants has been reprocessed.
(Japan Times Sep. 17, 2014)
Japan's utilities fail to report plans for plutonium usage
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan has violated government policy by failing to compile a plan on how it intends to use the half ton of plutonium it expects to extract from spent fuel in fiscal 2012, sources said Saturday (Apr. 21).
The deadline was March 31, when fiscal 2011 ended. Without a plan, Japan could come under international fire again for its blatant lack of transparency, given the risks of the plutonium being diverted for nuclear weapons use or terrorism.
In 2010, the federation said that by the end of March 2016, 5.5 to 6.5 tons of plutonium will be used each year at 16 to 18 of the reactors across Japan, but the viability of the project has been threatened by the Fukushima disaster.
(The Japan Times Apr. 23, 2012)
Russia, Japan sign agreement on nuclear fuel supply
Russia and Japan signed an intergovernmental nuclear cooperation deal on Tuesday (May 12, 2009) during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Tokyo.
The agreement opens the door for cooperation in the field of nuclear fuel cycle services and the construction of nuclear power plants.
Russia's nuclear chief said that the signing of the intergovernmental civilian nuclear power agreement would clear the way for Russia to supply low-enriched uranium to Japan worth hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
(RIA Novosti May 12, 2009)
Atomenergoprom and Toshiba consider construction of enrichment plant in Japan
Russia's Atomenergoprom and Japan's Toshiba Corporation are considering the joint construction in either Japan or another country of a uranium enrichment plant based on Russia's highly effective gas centrifuge technology, according to Atomenergoprom's press office.
(RBC Mar 19, 2009)
Japanese government releases first detailed English translation of plutonium holdings report
In response to a request from Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) , for the first time the Japanese government has published a detailed English translation of its plutonium holdings report (as at 31 December 2006). The data includes input-output balance sheets.
The latest report includes data for the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant for
the first time. Active testing using spent fuel began at Rokkasho on 31
March 2006 and the first plutonium-uranium mixed oxide product (MOX)
was produced on 16 November 2006.
> Download The Current Situation of Plutonium Management in Japan, 18 September 2007 (88k PDF - in English, Atomic Energy Commission)
Plutonium separated from Japanese spent fuel continues to be piled up
On 23 February 2007 the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPCO) published a compilation of Japan's electric power companies' "plutonium utilization plans" for the 2007 Fiscal Year (1 April 2007 - 31 March 2008).
Once again no indication is given of by when the plutonium separated at the Rokkasho reprocessing plant will be used up. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the plutonium separated at Rokkasho will simply increase the size of Japan's already huge plutonium stockpile (43.1 tons at last count).
> View: Japan's Plutonium Use Plan, 2007 Fiscal Year (CNIC)
Japan shelves laser uranium enrichment method
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
has decided to shelve its research and development on laser uranium
enrichment technology used to produce fuel for nuclear power,
ministry officials said on Oct. 2, 2001. The decision reflects questions about the technology's applicability and economic feasibility. Since the late 1980s, the government has spent more than 50 billion yen and the power industry over 15 billion yen on developing laser
uranium enrichment technology.
The ministry will turn its focus to enhancing the efficiency of the
existing centrifugation technology. The uranium enrichment factory of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. in Rokkasho village, Aomori Prefecture -- scheduled to be expanded in 2010 with laser uranium enrichment technology -- plans to use an improved centrifugation method.
(Kyodo Oct 2, 2001)
JNFL starts operating new centrifuges at Rokkasho-mura uranium enrichment plant
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. started on Wednesday (Dec. 28) the operation of new, more efficient centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.
After a warm-up operation, the centrifuges -- each capable of processing enrichment four to five times more efficiently than a previous one -- will start producing uranium products around March, the company said.
In one year of operation, the new centrifuges can enrich one-third of uranium required for a 1-gigawatt reactor per year, according to the operator.
Japan Nuclear Fuel plans to replace all old units with new ones over the next decade at the enrichment facility that went on-stream in 1992.
(Mainichi Daily News Dec. 29, 2011)
On March 9, 2012, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) announced the commencement of commercial operation of the first half of the initial installation for the centrifuge units renewal work at the Rokkasho Uranium Enrichment Plant.
RE-2A, which has now a capacity of 37.5tSWU/year, has started commercial operation on March 9th. This is the first half of the initial installation of the 75tSWU/year plant to be finally constructed.
JNFL suspends enrichment operations at Rokkasho-mura for centrifuge renewal
A Japanese company with uranium enrichment technology said Tuesday it will suspend production of enriched uranium at its facilities in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, from Wednesday (Dec. 15) for the installation of updated centrifuges.
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. said it will suspend the operation of its only running centrifuge unit as a precautionary measure because centrifuges in another unit at the same plant are being renewed for the planned start of operations from September 2011.
(AP Dec. 14, 2010)
JNFL starts test of advanced centrifuge cascade
On November 12, 2007, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited started the cascade test using uranium hexafluoride at its Centrifuge Test Facility.
JNFL intends to introduce this new centrifuge machine, replacing the existing machine around 2010, and bring the capacity up to 1,500 t SWU/year, within about 10 years time.
Court rejects appeal by residents opposed to Rokkasho uranium enrichment plant
On May 9, 2006, a Japanese high court rejected an appeal by 77 residents demanding that the government revoke a decision to allow construction of a uranium enrichment plant in northern Japan, a court official said.
The Sendai High Court upheld a lower court ruling and dismissed the appeal, said court spokesman Hiroki Kadowaki, who declined to provide any details of the ruling.
(AP May 9, 2006)
Court dismisses suit against Rokkasho enrichment plant
On March 15, 2002, the Aomori District Court dismissed a suit filed almost 13 years ago by citizens seeking a revocation of government approval for a uranium enrichment plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, ruling the government's safety check was appropriate.
Presiding Judge Tsutomu Yamazaki dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that the uranium plant should not have been approved because the facility could be vulnerable to massive earthquakes, plane crashes and major nuclear accidents.
(Kyodo March 15, 2002)
Completion of Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant to be delayed by another three years until 2022
On Dec. 22, 2017, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) announced that the timing of the completion of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant has been changed from the first half of Japanese Fiscal Year 2019 to the first half of Japanese Fiscal Year 2022 [that is April - September 2022].
Completion of Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant to be delayed until 2019
On Nov. 16, 2015, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) announced that the timing of the completion of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant has been changed from October 2017 to the first half of Japanese Fiscal Year 2019 [that is April - September 2019].
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd and Areva sign joint statement on cooperation in the area of nuclear fuel recycling
"Today, President Kawai and Mr. Luc Oursel, CEO of AREVA signed the 'Joint Statement on the Future of Nuclear Fuel Recycling'.
JNFL and AREVA have been cooperating in the nuclear fuel cycle field for a long time as partners, and reconfirmed that it is quite worthwhile to strengthen our partnership to contribute to nuclear industry in Japan continuously trough the statement."
(JNFL June 7, 2013)
Among others, AREVA will support JNFL in constructing and commissioning JNFL's MOX
fuel fabrication plant.
> Download: Joint Statement on the Future of Nuclear Fuel Recycling , June 7, 2013 (PDF - JNFL)
Completion of Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant expected to be delayed beyond 2016
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. showed reporters Thursday (Nov. 1) its MOX nuclear fuel plant being built in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.
Work began in October 2010 but was halted for about a year after the March 2011 disasters. Work resumed in April, but the facility is only about 3 percent done. Completion is expected to be delayed beyond the target date of March 2016.
Last month, the company completed drilling work to enhance the foundation's earthquake resistance and it is now checking the firmness of bedrock located about 24 meters underground. It will start building a structure on it once the bedrock passes a strength test, company officials said.
(Japan Times Nov. 2, 2012)
JNFL resumes construction of Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. on Tuesday (Apr. 3) restarted the construction of a plant to produce plutonium-uranium mixed oxide nuclear fuel known as MOX in Rokkasho village, Aomori Prefecture.
The plant, which Japan Nuclear Fuel originally started building in October 2010, will be the nation's first MOX plant to be operated on a commercial basis.
The company had suspended construction due to harsh winter conditions in Aomori and the northeastern region was then rocked by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
President Yoshihiko Kawai earlier indicated that the plant's completion, originally planned for March 2016, may be delayed due to the earthquake-induced suspension.
(Mainichi Apr. 4, 2012)
Construction of JNFL Rokkasho MOX fuel plant starts (Japan)
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. started Thursday (Oct. 28) in Aomori Prefecture the construction of what is set to become Japan's first commercial plant to produce plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel.
The plant, scheduled to be completed in March 2016 at a cost of around 190 billion yen [US$ 2.33 billion] in the village of Rokkasho in the northeastern Japan prefecture, is expected to serve as a key facility in establishing the infrastructure for recycling spent nuclear fuel.
It will be able to produce up to 130 tons of MOX fuel a year by changing powdered MOX, extracted from spent nuclear fuel at an adjacent reprocessing plant, into fuel pellets.
The launch comes after the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry authorized the plant's construction plan Friday (Oct. 22).
The project itself was approved by the ministry in May following a longer-than-expected process of assessing its quake-resistance strength since 2005.
(Mainichi Oct. 28, 2010)
Start of JNFL Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant construction delayed until October 2010
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. filed a plan with the government on Friday (May 21) that will delay by five months until October 2010 the start of constructing in Aomori Prefecture a plant designed to produce plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX fuel.
(Kyodo May 21, 2010)
JNFL Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel fabrication plant project passes government's safety scrutiny
The Atomic Energy Commission endorsed plans by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. to build a plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel plant from May.
Given the green light, the economy, trade and industry minister will license its operation aimed for launch in 2015 in the near future, ministry officials said.
(Kyodo Apr. 20, 2010)
JNFL postpones start of construction of Rokkasho-mura MOX fuel plant
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) has announced a postponement to the start of construction of its mixed oxide (MOX) fuel plant.
The company has requested that Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) revise its original application for the construction of its MOX fuel plant to allow for a further six months before the start of its construction.
Construction of the J-MOX fabrication facility at Rokkasho had originally been scheduled to begin in 2007, but has been delayed by reviews of seismic criteria. In April, JNFL said that it planned to start work last month, with an expected start-up date of June 2015 for the plant, revising the date of 2012 specified in an earlier construction application.
However, JNFL has now informed Meti that it plans to start construction of the plant in May 2010. The target date for the facility's completion remains the same.
(WNN Dec. 14, 2009)
JNFL produces first mixed oxides for MOX fuel
On Nov. 2, 2006, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) announced it has produced first uranium-plutonium mixed oxides in its Rokkasho reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture. The mixed oxides will be further processed into MOX fuel.
CNIC protests Aomori Gov's signing of agreement on construction of Rokkasho-mura MOX plant
Citizens' Nuclear Information Center protests Aomori Prefecture's decision to sign the basic cooperative site agreement for a MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant and demands that it rescind the agreement. The agreement has been signed between Aomori Prefecture, Rokkasho Village, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) and the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPCO). (CNIC Apr. 19, 2005)
Aomori government approves Rokkashomura MOX plant
On April 14, 2005, Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura accepted Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s request to build a plant to process plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel in the village of Rokkasho.
Mimura said Aomori Prefecture and Rokkasho will each receive 980 million
yen [US$ 9 million] per year in central government subsidies for two years beginning fiscal 2006 in return for hosting the facility. The subsidies are in
line with electricity provision laws.
The MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant will be built within the grounds of the existing Rokkasho nuclear spent-fuel reprocessing plant at an estimated construction cost of 120 billion yen [US$ 1.1 billion]. The two plants will be connected underground for the delivery of plutonium and uranium.
(Japan Times 15 Apr 2005)
Aomori government to approve Rokkashomura MOX plant
Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura will approve a request from Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. to construct the nation's first commercial plant to process mixed uranium and plutonium oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel in Rokkashomura in the prefecture, sources said.
The governor is expected to sign the basic agreement by the end of April 2005.
At the plant, MOX will be reprocessed to be used in plutonium-thermal nuclear power generation. MOX will be extracted from spent nuclear fuel at a reprocessing plant currently under construction in the village.
About 130 tons of MOX are expected to be produced annually at the new plant.
It will cost about 120 billion yen [US$ 1.1 billion] to construct the MOX facility, which will be built next to the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
(Yomiuri Shimbun Apr. 7, 2005)
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. seeks licence to build MOX fuel plant at Rokkasho-mura
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) is seeking a license to build a plutonium fuel fabrication plant at Rokkashomura, the utility-owned company said. Construction work on the plant would begin in 2004 and be completed in 2009, assuming both the Aomori Prefecture and Rokkashomura approve the project. (Platts Aug. 27, 2001)
Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited to build MOX fuel plant at Rokkasho-mura
On Nov. 10, 2000, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) announced the project to construct a MOX fuel fabrication plant adjacent to JNFL's Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant (currently under construction). The fuel plant will have a maximum capacity of 130 tonnes of MOX fuel per year. Construction costs are estimated at 120 billion Yen (about US$ 1.1 billion).
On September 30, 1999, a criticality accident occured at the Tokai nuclear fuel plant in Japan.
> see extra page
Fire in Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. Tokai nuclear fuel plant
A fire broke out inside a controlled area at a nuclear fuel plant here on Feb. 14, but no radioactive materials leaked and no one was injured or exposed to radiation, plant officials said.
The Tokai Works of Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. -- a manufacturer of nuclear reactor fuel in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture -- saw the fire break out at around 5:40 p.m. on Feb. 14. The fire went out by itself shortly afterward, according to the company.
(Mainichi Feb. 16, 2014)
GNF-Japan Kurihama fuel fabrication plant obtains final approval for restart - without public involvement
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved the restart of Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan's (GNF-J's) fuel fabrication plant in Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture. Last month the regulator concluded the facility meets revised safety standards.
GNF-J applied to the regulator in April 2014 for an assessment to confirm the Yokosuka plant meets revised safety standards, introduced in December 2013. GNF-J is part of the GE-led Global Nuclear Fuel joint venture with Hitachi and Toshiba, which designs and manufactures fuel for boiling water reactors.
On 8 March 2017, the NRA approved a draft review report confirming that GNF-J's uranium dioxide fuel fabrication facility is compatible with the new standards. The plant became the first fuel cycle facility to be confirmed as meet them.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry approved the restart of the facility on 29 March. At a meeting yesterday, the NRA commissioners gave the final approval needed for the plant to restart. Unlike with power reactors, the NRA said it was not necessary for GNF-J to seek approval from the Japan Atomic Energy Commission or the public to restart the facility.
(World Nuclear News Apr. 6, 2017)
Kazakhstan and United Arab Emirates plan nuclear cooperation, including uranium supply
> View here
Kazatomprom and Rosatom consider Ulba combine as possible site for uranium enrichment plant
The national atomic company of Kazakhstan Kazatomprom and Russian state corporation Rosatom examine the Ulba combine, which is located in East Kazakhstan as a possible site for uranium enrichment, reported Kazatomprom's Vice President Nurlan Ryspanov.
(Kazakhstan today June 4, 2010)
Kazakhstan to export enriched uranium
Kazakhstan intends to be more actively engaged in export of the enriched uranium. The report of the USA National Coordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development of the US Bureau of Investigation informs, Kazakhstan Today agency reports citing information portal NEWSru.
According to NEWSru, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, informed of the plans to export uranium and to sell a more expensive fuel to the neighboring countries, not ore.
"Now, Russia helps Kazakhstan to enrich its uranium. However, Astana may soon decide to buy uranium enrichment technologies. Kazakhstan will likely to establish cooperation with Iran, which has been involved in uranium for a long time."
(Kazakhstan Today 19 Oct 2009)
Kazakhstan to sell nuclear fuel to China, Japan, and Europe by 2013
Kazatomprom will start selling nuclear fuel to China by 2013. Kazakh-made nuclear fuel will also be exported to Japan, Europe, and possibly the U.S., according to Kazatomprom head Mukhtar Dzhakishev.
(Bloomberg May 31, 2007)
Cameco and Kazatomprom have not decided yet on uranium refinery plant project in Kazakhstan
Cameco and Kazatomprom have completed a feasibility study to evaluate the design, construction and operation of a uranium refinery in Kazakhstan with the capacity to produce 6,000 tU annually as uranium trioxide (UO3). A formal joint decision has not yet been made as to whether the refinery will be built.
(Cameco Dec. 11, 2017)
Cameco and Kazatomprom study uranium refinery plant project in Kazakhstan
On May 27, 2016, Cameco and Kazatomprom announced that they will complete a feasibility study for the purpose of evaluating the design, construction and operation of a uranium refinery in Kazakhstan with the capacity to produce 6,000 tU annually as uranium trioxide (UO3). The agreement includes provisions that would make Cameco's proprietary uranium refining technology available to Kazatomprom on a royalty-free basis, and grants Kazatomprom a five-year option to license Cameco's proprietary uranium conversion technology for purposes of constructing and operating a UF6 conversion facility in Kazakhstan.
If Cameco and Kazatomprom decide to build the refinery, the agreement also provides that
Cameco's and Kazatomprom's respective ownership interests in the limited liability partnership that will own the refinery, will be 71.67% for Kazatomprom and 28.33% for Cameco.
Kazakhstan and Canada sign nuclear cooperation agreement in preparation of uranium conversion joint venture
The document was signed in Astana yesterday (Nov. 13) following talks between Kazakhstan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, the press office of the ministry said in a statement.
"[...] In particular, the agreement opens the way for uranium enrichment and further conversion of uranium ore at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant for the production of fuel for nuclear power plants," the press office said.
Kazakhstan and Canada plan to invest $200 million into a uranium conversion facility, Tengrinews.kz reported citing Vladimir Shkolnik, chairman of Kazakhstan's national atomic company Kazatomprom.
The production capacity of the new facility will be 6,000 tons of uranium a year, Shkolnik said.
(Times of Central Asia Nov. 14, 2013)
Cameco and Kazatomprom eye uranium conversion plant in Kazakhstan
Canada's Cameco Corp. and Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom aim to launch a uranium-conversion plant in the Central Asian state in 2016-2017, Cameco's Chief Operating Officer Bob Steane said Friday (June 4).
Cameco and Kazatomprom plan to have a feasibility study done for the facility "in the next couple of years," Steane said, adding "conversion only makes sense when you get 12,000 or more [metric] tons capacity," referring to the size of the proposed plant.
(Dow Jones June 4, 2010)
Canada and Kazakhstan agree nuclear cooperation
Canada and Kazakhstan have concluded negotiations on the text of a nuclear cooperation agreement, ministers from the two countries have announced.
Jerry Grandey, CEO of Canadian uranium producer Cameco, welcomed the agreement, saying it would allow his company to expand its role and presence in Kazakhstan "and develop partnerships that will allow Cameco and Kazatomprom to work together on opportunities to convert uranium."
(WNN 25 September 2009)
Cameco and Kazatomprom establish entity for Ulba conversion plant project
Cameco Corporation and Kazatomprom are pleased to announce today that they are establishing a new legal entity, Ulba Conversion LLP, to further advance the development work of a 12,000 tonne, UF6 conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgical plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. Ownership of Ulba Conversion will be Kazatomprom 51% and Cameco 49%.
Cameco and Kazatomprom have agreed to begin the first stage of the feasibility study to evaluate a conversion plant based on the results of a detailed scoping study. This first stage will be funded by the two companies based on their participating interest and is expected to be completed in the next year. Cameco will provide the technology for the conversion plant and potentially hold an interest of up to 49%.
(Cameco June 3, 2008)
Cameco and Kazatomprom to cooperate on uranium conversion plant project in Kazakhstan
On May 28, 2007, Cameco Corporation announced it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with National Atomic Company Kazatomprom to co-operate on the development of uranium conversion capacity.
Under the terms of the MOU, Cameco will work with Kazatomprom to study the feasibility of constructing a uranium conversion facility in Kazakhstan and elsewhere. Cameco would provide the technology and potentially hold an interest of up to 49%, at the company's discretion.
> Ulba Metallurgical Plant
> Aerial view: Google Maps
Kazatomprom and Areva set up nuclear fuel joint venture
On Nov. 4, 2011, Areva and Kazatomprom signed an agreement on the construction of a new production line at the nuclear fuel manufacturing facility in Ulba. Construction is to start in 2012, once the feasibility study has been completed.
(Usine Nouvelle Nov. 4, 2011)
On Oct. 27, 2010, Areva and Kazatomprom signed an agreement to create a fuel fabrication joint-venture.
The new company, owned 51 % by Kazatomprom and 49 % by Areva, is to build a new fuel assembly manufacturing line based on the Areva design for the Ulba facility, located in the East of Kazakhstan. The new 400-ton per year capacity unit is scheduled to start operating in 2014.
The joint-venture IFASTAR owned 51% by Areva and 49% by Kazatomprom created by the two partners last year will commercialize production.
(Areva Oct. 27, 2010)
On Oct. 6, 2009, Areva and Kazatomprom signed an agreement to create a Fuel Marketing Joint Venture named IFASTAR.
Under the terms of the agreement, the newly created Paris-based IFASTAR will be owned jointly by Areva (51%) and Kazatomprom (49%). The mission of IFASTAR is to perform a Feasibility Study consisting of two parts:
Depending on the results of the assessment, and after decision of the partners, IFASTAR would run the sales of the products from this line while the fuel manufacturing itself would be performed by another joint venture, owned jointly by Kazatomprom (51%) and Areva (49%).
(Areva/Kazatomprom Oct. 6, 2009)
- The assessment of the Asian market in view of selling integrated fuel packages (including all front-end segments and combining Kazatomprom's uranium resources and Areva's fuel technology) to electric utilities operating in Asia,
- The assessment of the technical and economical feasibility of the construction of a dedicated fuel manufacturing line (400 tU/year) located at Kazatomprom's Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) site in Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan).
Japanese utiliy to outsource uranium reconversion to Kazakhstan
Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co. will outsource uranium reconversion, a process to convert enriched uranium hexafluoride into uranium oxide, to Kazakh state-run nuclear energy firm Kazatomprom.
The outsourcing will be made through Tokyo-based Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. , informed sources said.
A memorandum of understanding for the deal will be signed later in the day, the sources said.
Kazatomprom is expected to launch uranium reconversion for Kansai Electric at a plant in Kazakhstan in 2010, the sources said.
(Japan Corporate News Network Dec. 26, 2007)
Ulba Metallurgical Plant starts downblending of weapons-grade uranium
On October 8th, 2005, a U.S.-based nonproliferation group and Kazakh officials unveiled a project to eliminate about three tons of weapons-grade nuclear fuel which could be used to make some two dozen atomic bombs.
Under the project, about 6,400 pounds (2,900 kg) of nuclear fuel containing highly enriched uranium from a mothballed Soviet-built nuclear reactor in western Kazakhstan will be blended down at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Eastern Kazakhstan so that it cannot be used to make bombs. The uranium, less than 5 percent enriched, will be used for fuel for civilian reactors.
The $2 million project was initiated by the Nuclear Threat Initiative , a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The U.S. group and the Kazakh nuclear industry shared the costs.
(AP Oct. 8, 2005)
U.S. DOE, GNF, and RWE Nukem to assist Ulba plant in Oskemen in uranium extraction
"Under the project, a former nuclear weapons plant in Kazahkstan will develop its capability to separate low-enriched uranium from uranium concentrates with assistance from two private U.S. companies and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The uranium will then be made available as a power source to civilian power reactors throughout the world."
> DOE release Jan. 30, 2002
Construction of Kazakh-Chinese joint venture FA nuclear fuel fabrication plant has started
National Atomic Company Kazatomprom and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) have proceeded to implementation of a joint innovative project in the nuclear sector. This has become known during the teleconference with participation of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Construction of this FA Manufacturing Plant is one of the breakthrough projects to be implemented under Kazatomprom's strategy which focuses on development of a vertically integrated fuel cycle company with advanced nuclear fuel fabrication capabilities.
The plant will be managed through a joint venture "Ulba-FA", the founders of which are Ulba Metallurgical Plant JSC (51%) (Kazatomprom's subsidiary) and CGN-URC (49%) (subsidiary of CGNPC).
FA production technology will be provided by the French company AREVA, the world's leader in this segment. The relevant Contract was signed between AREVA NP and Ulba-FA LLP. The Agreement provides a license for fuel fabrication technology, engineering documentation, supply of the key production equipment, personnel training and others.
It should be noted that this project will allow to establish a modern, completely automated production with the capacity of 200 tonnes of fuel assemblies per year, which will be further used in NPPs as nuclear fuel.
Investments would comprise over KZT 49 billion [US$ 144 million], half of which is to be provided by the Chinese side. This project will also create 129 direct new jobs and create additional economic benefit through support goods and services in Kazakhstan.
Initial FA production is scheduled for 2020.
(Kazatomprom Dec. 6, 2016)
China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) signs agreement with Kazatomprom on nuclear fuel assembly plant joint venture in Kazakhstan
China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) announced that it signed an agreement Monday (Dec. 14) with Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom to jointly build a nuclear fuel assembly plant and mine uranium deposits in the central Asian country.
The largest nuclear power supplier in China said the main business terms, and construction and development schedules had been agreed upon with the Kazakh company.
CGN gave no further details on either project.
Cooperation between the two firms on uranium development and trade and nuclear fuel fabrication was initiated in 2006.
The two have a uranium mining joint venture, and CGN also imports nuclear fuel pellets and uranium from Kazatomprom.
(China Daily Dec. 15, 2015)
During an official visit by Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov to China, commercial terms agreements were signed between KazAtomProm and China General Nuclear (CGN) for the fuel assembly plant and development of uranium projects.
Under the agreement for setting up a fuel assembly production plant, a facility based on the existing Ulba Metallurgical Plant is to be built with a capacity for 200 tonnes per year. It will supply fuel to Chinese nuclear power reactors, KazAtomProm said in a statement.
(WNN July 18, 2016)
Kazakhstan and China discuss joint fuel assembly production
Kazakhstan and China are in talks to establish the joint fabrication of fuel assemblies for nuclear power plants, Nurlan Kapparov, president of Kazatomprom, said today.
Kapparov revealed the plan during his working visit to the Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMZ), the proposed site of an International Atomic Energy Agency-administered low-enriched uranium bank. The company's head "attached the greatest importance" to the prospect of developing the plant to help Kazakhstan attain the full nuclear fuel cycle.
(World Nuclear News Dec. 8, 2014)
International nuclear fuel bank could lure countries into nuclear energy - Beyond Nuclear
Banking on uranium makes the world less safe
The just opened low-enriched uranium "bank" in Kazakhstan has been heralded as a major step forward in non-proliferation. But what is its real agenda?
In principle, the uranium bank will provide an uninterrupted flow of low-enriched uranium -- the fuel for civilian reactors -- to nuclear power countries, while saving those considering nuclear energy programs the cost of building their own enrichment facilities.
It's positioned as a proliferation solution because it would avoid more problems like Iran, which claimed to be enriching its uranium for a civilian program but could have gone on to make highly enriched uranium for atomic bombs.
The problem is that the IAEA, which operates the bank, has a remit "to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy." The agency claims "dozens of countries" want nuclear energy (more aspiration than reality). Its "bank" conveniently provides a financial incentive. All of this is enshrined in the deeply problematic Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Yet for developing countries that lack major infrastructure and widespread electrical grid penetration, renewable energy is a far cheaper, safer and more efficient choice than nuclear.
Instead, the "bank" could lure countries, many of which are struggling with poverty and climate change, into the nuclear energy money pit.
That leaves them with the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident, the financial burden of building nuclear power plants in the first place, and of course an unsolved radioactive waste problem.
This is clearly not the safer option. (Beyond Nuclear Sep. 11, 2017)
> See also: Banking on Uranium Makes the World Less Safe , by Linda Pentz Gunter, Counterpunch, Sep. 8, 2017
IAEA low-enriched uranium fuel bank in Kazakhstan inaugurated
An inauguration ceremony was held in Astana on Aug. 29, 2017. LEU storage is expected to start in 2018.
(IAEA Aug. 29, 2017)
IAEA and Kazakhstan sign agreement to establish low-enriched uranium fuel bank
The IAEA and Kazakhstan today (Aug. 27) signed an agreement to set up the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. The IAEA LEU Bank, operated by Kazakhstan, will be a physical reserve of LEU available for eligible IAEA Member States. It will host a reserve of LEU, the basic ingredient of nuclear fuel, and act as a supplier of last resort for Member States in case they cannot obtain LEU on the global commercial market or otherwise. It will not disrupt the commercial market.
The Host State Agreement, a related technical agreement signed by Mr Amano and Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik, and a contract between the IAEA and Kazakhstan's Ulba Metallurgical Plant comprise the legal framework for the IAEA LEU Bank.
The IAEA LEU Bank will be a physical reserve of up to 90 metric tons of LEU, sufficient to run a 1,000 MWe light-water reactor. The IAEA LEU Bank will be located at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Oskemen in north-eastern Kazakhstan.
Safety and security of the IAEA LEU Bank will be governed by Kazakhstan's legal and regulatory requirements, and will meet the applicable provisions of the IAEA’s safety standards and security guidance documents. The LEU will also be subject to IAEA safeguards.
The establishment and operation of the IAEA LEU Bank is fully funded through US $150 million of voluntary contributions from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the United States, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Norway and Kazakhstan.
(IAEA Aug. 27, 2015)
Kazakhstan signs draft agreement with IAEA on proposed low-enriched uranium fuel bank
The government of Kazakhstan has approved a draft agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on establishing a low-enriched uranium (LEU) 'fuel bank' in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan put itself forward to host an international LEU depositary on its territory under the auspices of the IAEA in 2010. According to international norms, such a 'fuel bank' must be located in a country with no nuclear weapons and be fully open to IAEA inspectors. The 'fuel bank' will be an LEU reserve for the production of fuel assemblies for nuclear power plants. Any state wishing to develop nuclear energy will be able to apply to Kazakhstan for the uranium fuel needed for their nuclear power plants.
The Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) was proposed in 2012 as the site of the 'fuel bank', but in February 2013 it was reported that due to seismic considerations and local opposition it would not be sited there after all. However, negotiations with the IAEA concluded in February 2014 were apparently still focused on the Ulba site at Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan. This is separate from Russia's similar concept under IAEA auspices.
LEU IAEA is defined as LEU owned by the IAEA in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) with a nominal enrichment of U-235 to 4.95%. LEU IAEA Bank means a physical reserve of IAEA LEU stored as a maximum volume of up to 60 full containers of the 30B type or later versions.
(WNN May 14, 2015)
[Given the 30B cylinder net capacity of 2,277 kg UF6, 60 cylinders contain 136.6 tonnes of enriched UF6, corresponding to 92.4 t U.]
Residents question benefit from planned Ulba international nuclear fuel bank project
Kazakhstan plans to build an international nuclear fuel bank in Ust-Kamenogorsk (Oskemen), in the country's east, at the site of Ulba Metallurgic Plant, part of the giant national company Kazatomprom, which produces fuel tablets for nuclear power plants.
While the authorities are keen on the plan, some citizens are seriously questioning it - questions that are likely to remain largely unanswered.
The nuclear fuel bank will store low-enriched uranium for the fuel assemblies of nuclear power plants under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In March 2010, Russia introduced the first LEU reserve (to store 120 tonnes) for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the International Uranium Enrichment Center in Angarsk, southeastern Siberia. The terms and conditions were the same as being currently negotiated with Kazakhstan: The host country provides the storage facility and funds the maintenance, physical security and safeguards.
The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the Host Country Agreement is due to be signed by the end of this year, after the IAEA board of governors meeting. Physical construction will begin in mid-2013.
The IAEA and its donors have pledged US$150 million for the project.
However, the general population remains confused as to what purpose the fuel bank might serve in Kazakhstan, as many understand that there is little if any economic benefit to be gained.
Some locals demand that before making the crucial decision on physically building the facilities for the bank, the population should be consulted and everything explained. Some are worried that there is very little economic benefit to be realized from hosting the bank. Others cannot help suspecting that under the guise of low-enriched uranium, the plant will host real nuclear waste and damage the fragile environment of East Kazakhstan province even further.
The possibility that an open public debate will be held is next to zero. It is clear, however, from official statements that the authorities will attempt to use the initiative as another propaganda tool to advance the country's image worldwide.
(Asia Times Sep. 7, 2012)
North Korea has expanded its enriched uranium facility, U.N. nuclear inspector says:
North Korea has doubled the size of its facility for enriching uranium in recent years, according to the United Nations' top nuclear inspector, who voiced doubt that a diplomatic agreement can end leader Kim Jong Un's weapons programs.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday (Mar. 20), Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described North Korea as rapidly advancing its capacity to produce nuclear weapons on two fronts: the production of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and the enrichment of uranium.
(Wall Street Journal Mar. 20, 2017)
North Korea 'Has New Uranium Enrichment Facility':
North Korea built a new underground uranium enrichment facility in Tongchang, North Pyongan Province in 2006, separately from the existing one at Yongbyon in the same province, Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young claimed Wednesday (Oct. 19).
Park said she had the information from a North Korean Army lieutenant colonel she only identified as Lee (52), who she claimed supervised security when the regime built the new facility.
"Construction began in 2001 and was completed in 2006," Park said. "After a test run in 2007, it began extracting enriched uranium in 2009."
"The Yongbyon facility is an empty structure that was built in preparation for an international inspection, but the new facility in Tongchang is the real uranium enrichment facility," she said.
(The Chosun Ilbo Oct. 20, 2011)
> Aerial view: Google Maps
New North Korea enrichment facility could boost weapons fuel: report:
North Korea is operating a new nuclear facility that could double its known capacity to produce uranium-enriched fuel for nuclear weapons, a South Korean news report said on Wednesday (Nov. 5).
The move, if true, would be a further step in defiance of international pressure on Pyongyang to end its nuclear program in the form of layers of U.N. sanctions.
The new facility sits right next to a plant where in 2010 the North allowed a team of U.S. nuclear experts to tour what one described as a sophisticated and "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment facility.
"We've discovered the plant has recently been completed and is now in operation," South Korea's Joongang Ilbo newspaper, a mainstream daily, quoted a government official who handles intelligence on North Korea as saying.
Images taken by U.S. intelligence authorities with cameras mounted with heat sensors revealed telltale signs pointing to the operation of centrifuges inside the plant, the official was quoted as saying.
(Reuters Nov. 5, 2014)
North Korea has secretly built a uranium enrichment plant:
North Korea has secretly and quickly built a new facility to enrich uranium, according to an American nuclear scientist, raising fears that the North is ramping up its nuclear program despite international pressure.
The scientist, Siegfried Hecker, said in a report posted Saturday (Nov. 20) that he was taken during a recent trip to the North's main Yongbyon atomic complex to a facility with a small industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility. The facility had 2,000 recently completed centrifuges, he said, and the North told him it was producing low-enriched uranium meant for a new reactor.
The facilities appeared to be primarily for civilian nuclear power, not for North Korea's nuclear arsenal, said Hecker, former director of the U.S. Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and a regular visitor to the North. He said he saw no evidence of plutonium production. But, he said, the facilities "could be readily converted to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel."
Uranium enrichment would give the North a second way to make atomic bombs, in addition to its known plutonium-based program.
(AP Nov. 21, 2010)
> Download report: A Return Trip to North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Complex , by Siegfried S. Hecker, Nov. 20, 2010 (122k PDF - Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University)
Revised nuclear deal with U.S. opens South Korea the possibility of gaining the ability to enrich uranium
South Korea said a new nuclear treaty with the United States that will govern its commercial nuclear activities for the next 20 years is set to enter into effect.
The countries agreed to the revised treaty in April after spending several years arguing whether South Korea should have the right to enrich and reprocess U.S.-origin nuclear fuel for commercial purposes.
The revised deal continues to deny South Korea that right, but opens the possibility of the country gaining the ability to enrich uranium to produce non-weapons grade nuclear fuel depending on future negotiations with the United States.
(AP Nov. 25, 2015)
South Korea seeks right to enrich uranium
The government plans to resume negotiations to revise a 1974 atomic energy pact with the U.S. this month and focus on securing the right to enrich uranium for nuclear power generation.
Despite being the world's fifth largest nuclear power producer, Korea cannot enrich uranium by itself and spends W900 billion [US$ 821 million] every year buying uranium yellowcake and commissioning other countries to enrich uranium for its nuclear reactors.
(Chosun Mar. 13, 2013)
Satellite imagery suggests Pakistan building uranium enrichment facility
Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 28 September 2015 and on 18 April 2016 shows new construction at Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) site in Kahuta that is consistent with that of a uranium enrichment facility.
The area is approximately 1.2 ha in size and is located within the secure area of the KRL in the southwestern part of the complex, which is situated in Pakistan's northeastern Punjab Province.
(IHS Jane's Defence Weekly Sep 16, 2016)
Pakistan's uranium enrichment facility will be under IAEA safeguards
The uranium conversion and enrichment facility planned by Pakistan will be under IAEA safeguards, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Anwar Ali told the the 51st General Conference of International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. He said Pakistan has chalked out a plan to expand power generation to meet the demand of its growing economy and the share of nuclear power in the energy mix to 8800 MW by the year 2030.
(PPI Sep. 18, 2007)
Pakistan plans to build nuclear fuel facilities to achieve self-reliance for nuclear fuel fabrication
Pakistan has decided to build a $1.192 billion (Rs72.2 billion) facility to develop the capacity to manufacture the full cycle of nuclear fuel and nuclear power plants.
Dawn has learnt that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) will set up a Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex (PNPFC) to attain the capability to manufacture pressurised water reactors (PWRs) and nuclear power plants (NPPs).
Knowledgeable sources said Pakistan took the decision because of denial of technology from the suppliers to all except the favoured countries.
They said the complex would comprise a Chemical Processing Plant, Fuel Fabrication Plant, Nuclear Power Fuel Testing Project and Seamless Tube Plant-1.
Being an indigenous facility, the complex will assure regular supply of nuclear fuel to PWRs. It will cost over Rs36.1 billion to the national exchequer.
The Chemical Processing Plant, which will cost Rs28 billion, is meant to produce nuclear fuel and structural materials and natural UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) gas from the commercially available yellow cake (U3O8) and convert depleted UF6 gas into depleted uranium metal.
The plant will act as a roadmap for ultimately achieving the capability of fulfilling one-thirds of the total fuel requirement needed for the NPPs, planned to be constructed by 2030. Initially, the PAEC is expected to construct six to eight NPPs indigenously.
The Fuel Fabrication Plant is proposed to be built at a cost of Rs3.7 billion and its prime objective is to develop capability for indigenous fabrication of fuel assembly for fulfilling the major share of fuel requirements for existing and future NPPs.
The PAEC has informed higher authorities that an indigenous Fuel Fabrication Plant is required to ensure reliable and uninterrupted fuel supply "which may otherwise be affected any time because of international politics and pressure".
At present, the government is importing nuclear fuel from China for the 300MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-2. The fabrication cost is about $486 million and the proposed Fuel Fabrication Plant will enable the country to achieve self-reliance for PWR fuel fabrication technology for the assured supply of nuclear power to existing and future NPPs.
(Dawn Aug. 8, 2007)
> See extra page
As part of Turkey's plans to develop its nuclear potential the Turkish Energy Ministry is moving toward plans to position the country as a regional center for uranium enrichment, sources revealed on Jan. 14, 2008.
The issue will be discussed at a nuclear energy meeting that will be held in Istanbul on Jan. 18, 2008. In addition to Tomihiro Taniguchi, the No. 2 at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), top-level officials from America, Russia, France and the United Kingdom will reportedly be attending the meeting.
(Turkish Daily News Jan. 15, 2008)