Yellowcake galore: Iran claims 1,400 uranium mines
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
NICOSIA — Iran has reported it has 1,400 uranium mines in the country, only a few of which have been tapped.
The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization said 1,400 mines were available for the extraction of uranium. The organization said the mines were located in central Iran and would be used to produce yellowcake for the nation's uranium enrichment program.
"The mines are scattered in one-third of Iranian territory particularly in the central areas of Saghand, south of Bandar Abbas, Khashouri, Narigan and Zarigan," IAEO deputy director Hossein Faqihian said.
In a Dec. 18 nuclear technology conference in Mashhad, Faqihian said Iran has been developing only a few of the available mines. He said the uranium would be converted into yellowcake for eventual production of fuel for nuclear reactors.
Yellowcake is milled uranium oxide, the first step toward enriched uranium. In the second step, the yellowcake is converted into uranium hexafluoride.
"We need power plants and mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle as indispensable requirements for producing nuclear fuel," Faqihian said. "But the initial step is to have a sufficient supply of uranium to produce yellowcake. The intial process is being carried out in Bandar Abbas [in southern Hormuzgan province] and in Ardekan [in central Yazd]."
Faqihian said the conversion of yellowcake was taking place at the uranium conversion facility in Isfahan. He said Iran was one of 10 countries in the world capable of enriching uranium.
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