Iran tests ways of recovering weapons-grade uranium from spent nuclear fuel

This intelligence assessment, disclosed to AP by a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicates that the Iranians are testing ways of using nuclear waste from the Bushehr reactor, which the Russians have pledged to finish by the end of the year or March, 2009, at latest.
Moscow has provided the necessary fuel. Both Moscow and Iran claim the Bushehr reactor is purely for peaceful purposes.
The spent fuel at issue as the source of the enriched uranium is not enough to yield the 30 kilos of weapons grade (90 percent enriched) material for a bomb, but is another step in that direction. debkafile adds that Bushehr could provide enough nuclear waste for rapid production of several bombs or warheads.
In a Kol Israel radio interview this week, Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel and member of Barack Obama’s Middle East team, disclosed that US intelligence now reckons Iran will have between one and three nuclear bombs by the end of 2009.
The tests, which loosely replicate Saddam Hussein’s attempt to build a bomb 20 years ago, were described by the source as “evaluating procedures for recycling fuel by dissolving fuel rods for irradiated waste, then reprocessing it for uranium metal,” which is used for nuclear warheads.
The source material, says the intelligence report, would be highly enriched, some at above 90 percent and the rest at 20 percent. “
“Sufficient data was collected for planning production lines for recovering the fuel,” according the assessment, which discloses the location of the experiments as Jaber ibn Hayan Laboratories in Tehran run by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. They will soon submit a report to the Iranian leadership for a decision on whether to go ahead with the project.

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