“Enrichment efforts leave LEU stockpile vulnerable to airstrike”

“Enrichment efforts leave LEU stockpile vulnerable to airstrike”
February 18-23, 2010
     The IAEA’s strongly worded quarterly safeguards report on Iran revealed that Iran has transferred approximately 1,950 kg of LEU, over 90% of its known stockpile, from the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant to the aboveground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant. While the use of only a single cascade indicates a slow enrichment process, this amount could be used to produce almost 200 kg of 19.75% LEU, greatly exceeding ISIS’ estimate of 9.2-18.4 kg required per year to operate the Tehran Research Reactor (ISIS).
     Julian Borger calls the large transfer “provocative and risky”, as Iran’s LEU stockpile is now vulnerable to a potential airstrike. Some British analysts speculate that Tehran may be deliberately inviting an Israeli airstrike, while David Albright suggests the bulk transfer was the quickest way to conduct enrichment. Tehran may also be attempting to pressure the West by signaling its intention to enrich its LEU to 20%, which would bring Tehran significantly closer to weapons-grade uranium (Guardian).
     On Monday, Iran announced its intention to start building two new uranium enrichment facilities as early as this year (Associated Press). Meanwhile, Israel introduced a new fleet of Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying out military missions as far as the Persian Gulf and Iran (New York Times).
ISIS | Guardian | Associated Press | New York Times


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