Russia Sells Iran AVLIS System for Advanced Uranium Enrichment

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA – put out a disturbing report this week confirming earlier debkafile revelations that traces of uranium enrichment activity were found in samples at Natanz nuclear facility in Iran, 290 km south of Tehran, evidence that Iran was in the process of building a nuclear arsenal.
Agency officials admit that Tehran is in clear non-compliance with its nuclear safeguard obligations and may even have laid itself open to a complaint to the UN Security Council and the threat of sanctions.
In issue Number 120, published on August 8,DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources reported exclusively that in the second week of July Russia secretly delivered the components of the AVLIS (atomic vapor laser isotope separator) system aboard unmarked military transports.
This accelerated and environmentally clean process of uranium enrichment was first developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, for the US Department of Energy in the 1970s. In 1998, the Iranians were reported working on their own AVLIS. The version supplied by Russian is apparently based on more advanced technology. While the US energy department suspended AVLIS development in 1998, the Russians appear to have stepped up production, counting on an expanding future exports to governments bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, India and Pakistan.
The Russian components came with Russian technicians for assembling the apparatus and teaching Iranian nuclear technicians how to use it.
According to the information obtained byDEBKA-Net-Weekly, AVLIS has been installed at two of Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities, Natanz and Moallen Kalayeh. The latter is Iran’s most secluded subterranean nuclear plant, buried under the Albroz Mountains 40 km north of Tehran. In its tall tunnels, Iran carries out its most secret tests.
Moallen Kalayeh used to be a small rural village. Today it is a closed township populated by hundreds of scientists and technicians. It is also one of the most heavily protected places in the country. The Iranians are putting the new equipment to work at top speed at the peak of their effort to build up a stock of enriched uranium sufficient for a nuclear device before September 8, when the Nuclear Atomic Energy Agency’s board convenes in Vienna to discuss the Iran report.
Tehran has also been racing against the clock to forestall decisions at the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program that began in Beijing August 27, before they impede Iran’s related progress towards a nuclear weapon. Attending the talks are the US, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and China, the host.
According to our Moscow sources, Russian military circles as certain that without that AVLIS would not have been consigned to Iran without the okay of President Vladimir Putin. He would have seen the delivery as a means of getting round his promise to President George W. Bush not to send Iran spent nuclear rods to fuel the Bushehr nuclear reactor and a way of compensating Iran for this letdown.

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