A Technical and Policy Note on Iran’s Recent Uranium Enrichment Capacity Claims

An Annex summarizes the status of Iran’s enrichment program, based on the last quarterly report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
April 15, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Author: 

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard

Publication: 

Institute for Science and International Security

On April 8, 2020, one day before Iran’s Nuclear Technology Day, a spokesperson for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) announced that Iran could produce 60 “advanced” centrifuges a day, with the goal to reach an enrichment capacity of 250,000 separative work units (swu) per year, ultimately one million swu per year.1 It is unlikely, for several reasons, that Iran will reach this capacity with its existing advanced centrifuges for many years, if ever. Currently, its enrichment capacity is about 7500 swu per year (see Annex). This capacity represents a growth of about 20 percent since November 2019 with almost three quarters of that capacity invested in first generation IR-1 centrifuges, the rest in a mélange of advanced centrifuges. To reach 250,000 swu per year, Iran would need to increase its current enrichment capacity 30-fold, entailing the installation and operation of tens of thousands of advanced centrifuges. This goal seems out of Iran’s reach, faced with advanced centrifuges that rarely work as planned and often fail, with a chaotic program that appears to be developing far too many centrifuges, all at best mediocre and poorly performing, and with little chance of ever competing economically with Russian and European centrifuges that supply most of the enrichment needs of nuclear power reactors in the world, including Iran’s own Bushehr reactor.

Read the full report at the Institute for Science and International Security.