Natanz: Underground Nuclear Facility of Iran | 04 Jul 2020

Why in News

Recently, a fire broke out at Natanz, an Underground Nuclear Facility of Iran used for enriching uranium.

  • Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 is increased.

Key Points

  • Natanz:
    • Located in Iran’s central Isfahan province in Tehran, Natanz hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility.
    • It is known as the first Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant of Iran.
    • It is among the sites monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers i.e. the USA ,UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany.
    • Controversy:
      • IAEA Inspection: Natanz became a point of controversy as Iran refused to allow an IAEA inspector into the facility in October 2019, after allegedly testing positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates.
        • Nitrates are a common fertilizer, however, when mixed with proper amounts of fuel, the material can become an explosive as powerful as Trinitrotoluene (TNT).
        • TNT is also known as 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene and does not occur naturally in the environment.
        • It is an explosive used in military shells, bombs, and grenades, and in underwater blasting.
    • Stuxnet Computer Virus: The Stuxnet computer virus, believed to be an American and Israeli creation, disrupted and destroyed centrifuges at Natanz amid the height of Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear program in 2010.
    • USA’s Response: The USA has unilaterally withdrawn from the nuclear deal in May 2018 as Iran has continuously been breaking all the production limits set by the deal.
      • According to the IAEA Iran enriches uranium to about 4.5 % purity, above the terms of the nuclear deal.

International Atomic Energy Agency

  • Widely known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development” organization within the United Nations family, the IAEA is the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear field.
  • The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology.
  • Headquarter: Vienna, Austria.
  • The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
    • In 2005 it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for a safe and peaceful world.
  • Functions: It is an independent international organization that reports annually to the United Nation General Assembly. When necessary, the IAEA also reports to the UN Security Council in regards to instances of members’ non-compliance with safeguards and security obligations.

Source: IE