Cost of Iran’s Nuclear Program, Less than 2 Billion Dollars

12 March 2015 | 00:42 Code : 1945207 Review General category
Excerpts of a speech made by Mohammad Saeedi, a former deputy of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, in the conference entitled “New Proposals to Resolve Iran’s Nuclear Dossier”
Cost of Iran’s Nuclear Program, Less than 2 Billion Dollars

 -Iran’s nuclear program started in 1971. I talked with Dr. Akbar Etemad in Paris and Tehran.  He was the only one who was trusted by the previous regime and had detailed knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program.

-Iran’s nuclear program was founded on the basis that Iran would be able to produce 23000 megawatts of nuclear electricity and also establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle. This cycle would cover the production of uranium powder, which is called yellow cake, to the stage of transformation to UF6, UF4, enriched uranium, fuel rods and then the production of energy for heavy and light water reactors.

-Then there is reprocessing which completes the nuclear fuel cycle. Since a small amount of 3.5 to 5% enriched uranium is spent in the reprocessing stage, the rest remains as spent-fuel. During a process wherein separation is performed in the fuel cycle, enriched uranium is injected in the light water reactor. Neither Japan nor South Korea has this complete cycle. Japan imports its uranium from Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan. South Korea’s nuclear program reaches just until before the UF6 stage. Iran’s complete program was designed in the previous regime. When Kissinger visited Iran in 1977, an agreement was signed between Iran and the US. Kissinger strongly opposed the idea of Iran having a complete nuclear program but in the end he agreed that under certain conditions the stage of uranium processing, UCF, be performed in Isfahan and that they would deliver enrichment and in return, Iran, would allow special inspections.

-But following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Siemens unilaterally cancelled the Bushehr project. China also cancelled its contract with Iran regarding the UCF in 1996. We received 62 million dollars from China for cancelling their contract with which the Isfahan UCF firm was built.

-In December 1998, the High Committee of Technology was formed in the Khatami administration which was presided by the president himself. This committee pursued two objectives: reviewing the nuclear program and drawing a framework for it. It was decided that this program should continue to its fullest extent. Usually those countries which had nuclear technology would cooperate with the others, but since no country was ready to cooperate with Iran, we had to acquire this technology with all of our forces.

-Iran’s enrichment program in industrial processing was designed. If Iran intended to pursue a strategic program, it would not have founded its program on the basis of a process which would need 54000 centrifuges. It could have done that secretly and with 5000 machines and while the yellow cake was ready to be used. Then there would not be any need to build a big power plant like Natanz. When Natanz was attacked, Fordow was built as an alternative for fuel.

-The Arak heavy water research reactor was also very important and strategic for Iran. We had estimated that this 40 Megawatt reactor could produce all the needed radioisotopes and also provide the needs of the Middle East.

-Contrary to what is reported in the media, the cost of Iran’s nuclear program was less than 2 billion dollars.

-When Dr. Larijani was the head of Iran’s negotiating team, several issues remained which were proposed as a modality. In fact, there were six issues which had remained unresolved with the IAEA in the nuclear issue and one issue in Possible Military Dimension (PMD).

-Iran created conditions for the transparency of its program.

-The discussion is over two or three remaining questions. If these issues are resolved, the IAEA must verify Iran’s program and announce to the world that Iran’s nuclear program is similar to those of Japan and South Korea. Then we will have the right to continue our program and the IAEA will be able to perform its inspections.

-But there is this big “but” in the international community based on the peacefulness of Iran’s program. That is why they talk about the critical point in the nuclear breakout time. The question is, when would Iran would be able to deviate its peaceful program towards unpeacefulness?

-When the IAEA enjoys all tools of control and supervision, then the issue of nuclear breakout would be meaningless. If this question is proposed with regard to Iran, the same question must be proposed for Japan as well. Right now, Japan has a considerable amount of plutonium from 54 power plants which are reserved and the US has not asked Japan to deliver them to it or be under special inspection. The reason is due to the mechanism of the Additional Protocol and the safeguard agreement and certain inspections which are designed, Japan’s nuclear program is under control. This is while Iran has no plutonium. Second, Iran’s enriched material is about 5% which is legal and there is no ambiguity about it. It is accepted that part of the 20% enriched uranium would be transformed into fuel for uranium plates for the Tehran Reactor and part of it would be concentrated.

-If all sanctions are to be lifted, then we must also move towards the signing of the Additional Protocol. Iran must commit itself to this protocol while a nuclear Iran is accepted in the world. No special inspection and regulation beside this protocol should be imposed. It took 5 to 6 years for the safeguard agreement to be transformed into the Additional Protocol.

-If we have reached an agreement with regard to the number of machines, then the nuclear program for fuel production must continue. Therefore, when the comprehensive agreement is signed, all limitations must be lifted because the objective of Iran’s nuclear program is the production of nuclear fuel.

-The last point is about the heavy water reactor. Iran’s negotiating team has very carefully and calculatedly negotiated in this regard and was able to maintain this reactor in its present situation. If it is to be redesigned, then the entire reactor must be demolished and another reactor should be built. The Arak reactor will be ready within the next two years. Perhaps it could be proposed that Iran stop the construction of this reactor when 92% of it is finished and then ask the US to construct and deliver a 40 Megawatt light water research reactor within a defined timetable. This is a good proposal when they insist on redesigning heavy water into light water but experience has shown that the US does not fulfill its promises. This could be their first experience in building a reactor. The average time for building 20 Megawatt reactors is between three to four years.

tags: iran iaea nuclear


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