This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Iran's Uranium Enrichment Program

By Dave Brown - Exclusive to Uranium Investing News

Earlier this year the United Nations' nuclear regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that uranium enrichment has begun at a nuclear facility in northern Iran. The Fordo uranium enrichment plant is located in a heavily defended bunker sunk into a mountain southwest of Tehran in Qom province and is reported to be capable of producing 20 percent enriched uranium.

An analysis of evidence of nuclear weaponization activities was provided by the Institute for Science and International Security last November. The analysis reported that Iran's total low enriched uranium production was estimated to be almost 5,000 kilograms of low enriched uranium hexafluoride. If it is further enriched to weapons grade, this quantity of low enriched uranium is expected to be enough to make four nuclear weapons.

Uranium enrichment process

Generally speaking, uranium is enriched by either gas centrifuge or gaseous diffusion. The gas centrifuge process has been broadly employed in the European nuclear industry for about 30 years to enrich uranium for the commercial nuclear power market. The process uses a large number of rotating cylinders interconnected to form cascades. The uranium hexafluoride gas is placed in a cylinder, which is rotated at a high speed. The rotation creates a strong centrifugal force, drawing more of the heavier gas molecules toward the walls of the cylinder. At the same time lighter gas molecules aggregate closer to the center of the cylinder. Gaseous diffusion relies on the flow of gas through small holes; the separation effect arising from molecular effusion.

Iran's p erspective 

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful, but that as a member of the Non Proliferation Treaty it has an inalienable right to peaceful nuclear energy. Iran also claims that it was required to resort to secrecy after United States' pressure caused several of its nuclear contracts with foreign governments to fall through.

Global security threat

Dr. Ivan Oelrich, Global Strategic Security expert explained the challenge of a global security threat of Iran's nuclear program to Uranium Investing News, “that answer would [...] really include two parts. The first relates to the consequences of Iran's getting a nuclear weapon and I think that is highly uncertain. The other part might be: What are the implications of this one case for the general question of nuclear proliferation? I think that is an important point that we lose track of if we focus too closely on the specific case of Iran. When thinking of a solution for the Iran problem, we should be thinking of universal solutions to the global proliferation problem because we can be certain that Iran is not going to be the last troubling case.”

Remaining questions

One outstanding concern is Iran's capability to make a nuclear explosive device based on what it learned through the development of its nuclear fuel cycle and uranium enrichment activity. The IAEA evaluated this in a 2009 working document that was never published. The working document indicated that, based on its evidence, “Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device based upon highly enriched uranium as the fission fuel.”

Dr. Oelrich also focused on this, “There is absolutely no technical difference between enrichment from 0.71 percent to 5 percent than there is from going from 5 percent to 90 percent, so they can do that.” Additional issues might depend on "being able to reduce to uranium metal and being able to machine uranium metal, but I believe everyone considers those to be the lesser technical challenges.”

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,072.31 +98.00 0.58%
S&P 500 0.00 -2.75 -0.14%
NASDAQ 4,535.9230 -13.3030 -0.29%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs